California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer to Retire

WASHINGTON (AP) -

California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, a tenacious liberal whose election to the Senate in 1992 heralded a new era for women at the upper reaches of political power, announced Thursday she will not seek re-election to a new term next year.

Boxer’s retirement sets off a free-for-all among a new generation of California Democrats, who have been ascendant in the state for years with few offices to aspire to while Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have held a lock on the state’s U.S. Senate seats.

The 74-year-old Boxer made the announcement in an unusual video in which she answered questions posed by her grandson, Zach Rodham. “I am never going to retire. The work is too important. But I will not be running for the Senate in 2016,” Boxer said.

In the video, Boxer’s grandson is a surrogate reporter posing questions to her. Rodham is the son of Nicole Boxer and Tony Rodham, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s youngest brother.

“I want to help our Democratic candidate for president make history,” Boxer tells her grandson, a clear reference to a possible bid by Clinton.

Boxer was first elected to the House in 1982 and to the Senate one decade later. It was an election that marked a watershed year for women in politics, with four winning U.S. Senate seats.