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Calif. Congresswoman plans to leave House

WASHINGTON - Longtime Democratic Rep. Jane Harman plans to resign from the House to become the next president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

In an e-mail to constituents yesterday, Harman said she notified House officials that she was in discussions to succeed former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) as the head of the center.

"This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed - nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress," she wrote. "But shaping and leading the Wilson Center is a thrilling new challenge."

Hamilton stepped down at the end of November, and the center's board of trustees is expected to choose a successor today. The center is an organization designed to bring leading experts on various issues to Washington to interact with policymakers.

Harman, 65, said she would remain in Congress for several weeks to ensure an orderly transition. She represents a Democratic-safe district that includes several beachfront communities in suburban Los Angeles, such as Venice and Redondo Beach. She was first elected to the House in 1992. After losing a race for governor, she regained the seat in 2000.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn announced her candidacy to succeed Harman and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said via Twitter she was giving serious thought to running for the seat. Hahn is the sister of former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn.

Harman is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Her husband, Sidney, of Harman International Industries, is the owner of Newsweek. - AP

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