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California - 6th District

Incumbent -- Lynn Woolsey (D) ; Will retire at end of current term (announced June 27, 2011)

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key

CQ Politics rates this race as "Safe," meaning the incumbent party is virtually certain to win the seat.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

Travel north across the Golden Gate Bridge and the scenery changes from the cityscape of San Francisco to the Pacific coastline and inland hills that make up the 6th District.

The 6th takes in all of Marin County, a very affluent area filled with highly educated residents, many of whom are self-employed or commute to San Francisco for high-tech or other white-collar jobs. Marin's suburban population is mainly divided between towns in the foothills of Mt. Tamalpais and waterfront locales like tony Sausalito, Tiburon and Stinson Beach. Home prices here have begun to recover after a housing market collapse, and unemployment rates remain lower than many regions of the state. Marin also is home to San Quentin State Prison -- the state's oldest correctional facility -- as well as San Rafael and popular getaway spots such as Point Reyes National Seashore and Muir Woods.

Wine and dairy ranching are key to the district's economy, and Sonoma County is one of the nation's leading producers of wine. Sonoma (shared with the 1st) has hundreds of wineries and is home to a California State University campus and Santa Rosa, the district's largest city. Vineyard tours, tastings and sales form the bedrock of the local tourism industry.

Some technology companies have made inroads in the district -- Marin County hosts biomedical and software engineering firms -- but the high cost of housing, commercial real estate prices and lack of developable land for expansion may continue to limit high-tech growth. Although Lucasfilm's Skywalker Ranch retreat is tucked among the hills in a remote area of Marin, the production company has followed many video game and software developers to San Francisco.

Solidly Democratic, the district's affluent residents, despite their wealth, tend to have progressive views. Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2 to 1 in voter registration, and Democrat Jerry Brown took 68 percent of the district's 2010 gubernatorial vote.

Major Industry

Agriculture, telecommunications, tourism


Santa Rosa (pt.), 167,779; Petaluma, 57,941; San Rafael, 57,713


The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa celebrates the work of the "Peanuts" creator.




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