SAN FRANCISCO, June 3 (Reuters) - California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said on Monday he would not campaign for statewide office in 2014 when his current term ends and instead would retire from elective office.
Lockyer, a 72-year-old Democrat, has had an extensive career in California politics as a legislator, including as the state Senate’s top officer, and as the state’s attorney general prior to serving as treasurer.
“It’s been an exciting, fulfilling and rewarding 45 years,” Lockyer said in a statement. “But it’s time to make the break and explore other opportunities. I don’t have any definite plans right now, other than to do my job as Treasurer. But I look forward to starting a new phase of my life.”
He was elected treasurer in 2006 and took office the year after. Lockyer, who briefly ran for governor in 2005, said he would remain engaged in politics and public policy but did not say how.
In recent years Lockyer hinted at bowing out of elective office, expressing interest in serving as chancellor of the California State University system.
For more than a year Lockyer has had to contend with headlines of his wife Nadia Lockyer’s struggles with drug abuse. He filed for divorce last year but the two, who have a young son, are in the process of reconciling, said spokesman Tom Dresslar.
Lockyer had decided to retire after ruling out campaigning for the state controller, which also entails financial duties, Dresslar said.
“His gut told him it was time to move on,” Dresslar said. “The prospect of being controller was a little bit ‘Been there, done that’.”
State Controller John Chiang, also a Democrat, is raising funds for a campaign for his party’s nomination for state treasurer.
Democratic consultant Jason Kinney said Lockyer’s departure will be a loss for California’s state government: “He’s been the adult in the room for so many conversations ... He’ll be missed just due to the depth of his knowledge and experience.”
Dan Schnur, a former aide to former Republican Governor Pete Wilson, said the state capital of Sacramento is losing one of its moderate figures with Lockyer’s departure, potentially widening its partisan divide.
“Lockyer was one of the last of a generation who understood the importance of reaching across party lines,” said Schnur, who now heads the Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.
Lockyer stunned fellow Democrats when he said he had voted for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall election. The Hollywood icon bounced Democrat Gray Davis from the governor’s office.
In the U.S. municipal debt market, Lockyer will be remembered for taking a conservative approach to managing California’s debt portfolio, said Standard & Poor’s analyst Gabriel Petek.
“The state had its own budgetary issues but its debt portfolio really didn’t add to those liquidity pressures,” Petek said.