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California’s Rep. George Radanovich to step down

Central Valley Rep. George Radanovich announced Tuesday that he is stepping down from his strongly Republican district seat next year and has asked state Sen. Jeff Denham, a fellow conservative Republican, to run to replace him.

Radanovich, a 15-year veteran of Congress from Mariposa, said in statement that he wants to spend more time with his wife, Ethie, who is battling ovarian cancer; and his son.

“My family needs me, and I intend to be by their side to win this battle,” Radanovich said. “It is for this reason that I have decided to not seek reelection to Congress in 2010.”

Radanovich also said he discussed the situation with several of his “most trusted advisors and colleagues,” including Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) and state Sen. David Cogdill (R-Modesto) and that he had “reached out” to Denham.

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Denham, of the Central Valley town of Atwater, has termed-out in the Senate. He recently decided against running for California lieutenant governor next year after the governor appointed state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) to the vacant post. Denham had considered a state Assembly seat before Radanovich persuaded him to run for Congress. Several other Republicans were thought to be interested in seeking Radanovich’s seat, but it was unclear how their plans might be affected by the congressman’s all-out support of Denham.

Radanovich is perhaps best known among Californians for leading efforts to pass a congressional resolution acknowledging a World War I-era genocide of Armenians. A member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he also once owned a California winery.

Radanovich promised to conclude his tenure by continuing “to fight to unite our valley in helping us get the water we need to save our state’s No. 1 industry -- agriculture.”

jean.merl@latimes.com

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