WASHINGTON -- Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, now begins the hardest congressional year imaginable.
On Sunday, Radanovich will bid a final public farewell to his late wife, Ethie.
He is calling the 1 p.m. memorial service at Sierra Meadows Country Club in Ahwahnee a celebration, honoring the ebullient spirit of the woman he was married to for 14 years.
Then, the California services done, Radanovich and his 11-year-old son, King, will return to the snow-encrusted East Coast. King has school, and Radanovich has work.
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"He's been very positive, and very much focused on moving forward," said Radanovich's chief of staff, Ted Maness.
Normally very accessible, Radanovich has declined interview requests since he announced his retirement Dec. 29. At this point, Maness said, Radanovich wants the last memorial service out of the way before he talks to reporters.
Within Radanovich's congressional office, staffers are re-evaluating their own career options. Three have left in recent weeks, and other résumés are being polished.
Among the departed is Fresno State graduate Tricia Geringer, an attorney who first joined Radanovich's staff in 1995 and left Feb. 1 to join the Sacramento-based Agricultural Council of California.
Radanovich plans in his final year to keep his focus on San Joaquin Valley water-delivery issues, as well as a pending Yosemite National Park land issue, Maness said.
Inevitably, with any congressional retirement, increased attention also goes to hopeful replacements.
Radanovich -- as well as Rep. David Dreier of San Dimas, a Republican colleague who will speak at the Sunday service -- are backing state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Atwater. Former Tracy-area congressman Richard Pombo has the backing of Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, among others.
Radanovich's campaign treasury had $192,558 available as of Dec. 31. He can contribute a small portion of this directly to Denham, as well as larger amounts to state and federal Republican campaign committees.
Radanovich's longtime political consultant, Carlos Rodriguez, is now doing similar work for Denham.
Within the sometimes fraternal, sometimes fratricidal confines of Congress, Radanovich is now in a position to give support as well as receive it.
Rep. Steve Buyer, an Indiana Republican who entered the House in 1995 along with Radanovich and who sits next to him on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is likewise retiring following the revelation that his wife has what Buyer termed a terminal illness.
Friends like former Rep. David McIntosh of Indiana, who also was a member of Radanovich's freshman House class, and McIntosh's wife, Ruthie, have been helping out at Radanovich's Alexandria, Va., home.
Radanovich has not yet said officially where he expects to live after he leaves office, though he will be bringing his son with him on trips back to the district.
Said Maness, "He wants King to grow up as a California kid."