Doolittle calls it quits

One of the most powerful men in California politics became the latest casualty of the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, when veteran District 4 Rep. John Doolittle (pictured) of Rocklin on Jan. 10 announced his retirement after his current term.

Doolittle, a Republican whose conservative district includes Oroville, narrowly won re-election in 2006 over retired Air Force officer Charlie Brown and has been under pressure to quit from members of his own party who worry that he could be defeated this year.

Former state Sen. Rico Oller, an ally of Doolittle, has announced his intention to run for the District 4 seat, and former Rep. Doug Ose, a Republican moderate, is also expected to compete. State Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) has said he does not intend to run. Brown is the only Democratic candidate in the race.

Doolittle was a powerful figure in Congress as well as his district, where he built a political machine that influenced local and regional politics on all levels. But he and his wife are under FBI investigation as a result of their close ties to Abramoff.