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Longtime Ventura County congressman Elton Gallegly will retire

January 7, 2012 | 12:33 pm

Longtime U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) announced Saturday that he won't seek reelection when his current term ends, following the re-configuring of his 26th Congressional District.

Gallegly, a Republican, has been a Ventura County congressional representative for 25 years and has been a reliably conservative vote with a tough stance on illegal immigration. In a prepared statement, he said his decision didn't come easily but that he wants to "begin the next chapter" of his life with wife, Janice.

"We are truly blessed to have our health, our family, and so many, many friends that we look forward to spending more time with," Gallegly said.

Redistricting created a congressional district that would have been difficult for the Republican to win, spanning all of Ventura County outside of Simi Valley, Gallegly's home base.

The new district has a slight Democratic edge, potentially offering the party a better chance than it has had in the past. The House Majority PAC, a national Democratic funding group, has named the district one of a dozen where Republican control is in jeopardy.

He also faced the prospect of running against a popular Ventura County Democrat, Steve Bennett, who announced late last year that he would seek his party's nomination. Bennett, a member of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, has built solid countywide support with a series of measures that preserve agriculture and slow patchwork development.

Two other Democrats have also announced: David Pollock, who has served on the Moorpark school board and City Council, and David Thayne, a former professional tennis player.

Gallegly's departure opens up the Republican nomination. Likely contenders are Tony Strickland, a state senator; retired sheriff Bob Brooks; and two Republican members of the Board of Supervisors, Linda Parks and Peter Foy.

Gallegly is vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of the judiciary committee’s subcommittee on immigration policy and enforcement. His major legislative victory was a bill outlawing "crush" videos picturing women in stilettos squashing small animals for the viewer's sexual thrill.

A native of Southern California, Gallegly settled in Simi Valley in 1968 and was the city's mayor when he successfully ran for Congress in 1986.

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-- Catherine Saillant

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