Matsui’s widow seeks congressional seat

/ Source: The Associated Press

Doris Matsui announced Wednesday she will seek the congressional seat held for 26 years by her late husband. She immediately received the endorsement of Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi.

With her family by her side just four days after burying Rep. Robert T. Matsui, Doris Matsui said, “I am asking those who supported him to now support me.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has set a March 8 primary election and a May 3 special election to choose a new congressman for the Democratic-leaning district. The second election will be held only if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the primary vote.

In a speech at her family’s Sacramento home, Matsui sounded campaign themes: opposing President Bush’s plans to privatize Social Security, expanding health care coverage for children and increasing federal spending on stem cell research.

Matsui said stem cell research offers hope for the disease that caused her husband’s death Jan. 1 — pneumonia brought on by myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare form of bone marrow disease.

“Now I have joined the ranks of the hundreds of thousands of Americans nationwide for whom this is personal,” she said, criticizing Bush’s limited federal funding of stem cell experiments.

Matsui is an experienced Washington lobbyist and former Clinton White House official, and Pelosi, D-Calif., noted her credentials in giving her endorsement.

“Doris has advocated for the people of Sacramento for more than 25 years,” Pelosi said in a statement.

At least two other Sacramento Democrats are reportedly thinking about running: state Sen. Deborah Ortiz and Grantland Johnson, a Cabinet member under former Gov. Gray Davis.

Twice in recent years, Californians have elected spouses to replace their late husbands: Rep. Lois Capps, a Santa Barbara-area Democrat, and Republican Rep. Mary Bono of Palm Springs.