Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel), who announced Thursday he will not seek reelection, says he wants to focus on being a "full-time grandpa."
Farr, 74, made his retirement announcement at a news conference in Salinas, saying it's time to come home after more than two decades in Congress.
"For years my wife Shary has asked me to come home. She's right. It's time," he said. "It's time to come home and spend time with her. To spend time with my daughter Jessica and my grandkids Ella and Zach. Time marches on and I am getting older; I want to spend more time with them."
Farr was first elected to Congress in 1993 in a special election to succeed Leon Panetta.
"Next Fourth of July I will be 75 years old and I never envisioned being in Congress so long," he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview after his announcement. "It's a hard place to leave, but there's also a realization that you've stayed too long, and for me too long would be if my body wasn't able to play with my grandkids."
Farr said with such a long career he missed a lot of his daughter's events "and I don't want to miss my grandkids events."
Ella, 13, has asked to travel with her grandpa and Zach, 7, wants Farr to teach him to fish, the congressman said.
Farr serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees the federal budget. He is the highest ranking Democrat on the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee.
In a statement, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Fransisco) called Farr a "tenacious, far-sighted champion for California's Central Coast and hard-working families across America."
Several members of the California delegation praised Farr's work with the Peace Corps, the organization that brought him to public service in Colombia in 1964.
"I sort of never left the Peace Corps," he said.
He also led the 2012 effort to re-establish Pinnacles National Monument into the country's 59th national park.
Farr represents California's 20th District, which includes Monterey and San Benito counties and the cities of Salinas and Santa Cruz.
In 2014, Farr beat Ronald Paul Kabat with 75.2% of the vote. In 2012, he won with 74.1% of the vote over Republican Jeff Taylor.
The district is overwhelmingly Democratic and considered safe for the party to retain. Monterey County Deputy Dist. Atty. Jimmy Panetta, son of Farr's predecessor, and several other Democrats have expressed interest in the seat when Farr retires.
Pacific Grove City Council member Casey Lucius, a Republican former national security professor at the Naval War College, has announced a bid for the seat.
Before coming to Congress, Farr served 12 years in the California Assembly and six years as a Monterey County supervisor.
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Read more about the 55 members of California's delegation at latimes.com/politics