WASHINGTON -- Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday she won’t seek re-election in 2016.
Capps, 77, first ran for Congress in a special election in 1998 to replace her husband, Walter Capps, who had died of a heart attack shortly into his first term.
She didn’t get into specifics on the reasoning behind her retirement, but said in a video she released to announce her retirement that it was a "hard decision to make."
“Now I believe it is time for me to return home back to the community and family that I love so much,” Capps said. “This 114th Congress will be my last, and at the completion of this term I will retire.”
Capps, who has represented California’s Central Coast for the past 17 years, told the local Santa Barbara Independent that she had “been thinking on this a while.”
During her tenure, Capps played the role of a party loyalist, championing environmental protection, expanded access to health care and improvements to education.
Had she run, Capps would have likely faced other Democrats for her seat, which represents Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.
Capps' daughter Laura is also a possible contender to replace her mother. Laura Capp recently moved back to Santa Barbara with her husband, further stoking speculation that she might run in 2016.
Actor Chris Mitchum, the son of actor Robert Mitchum, is reportedly mulling a possible bid on the Republican side. He has run for the seat twice previously.
UPDATE: 8:47 p.m. -- President Barack Obama said in a statement:
Her experience, optimism, and tenacity will be missed, but I look forward to working with Congresswoman Capps over the next two years, and Michelle and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
Also on HuffPost:
HuffPost Politics brings you the top political stories three days a week. Learn more