Before 12/7/10 goes into the history books, we may know the identity of the next chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Most handicap the contest as a competition between term-limited, waiver-seeking Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX) and former Communications Subcommittee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI).
There are in fact four announced contenders for the chair – Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) also have their hats in the ring. But the two-way nature of the race is perhaps underscored by the fact that the names of Stearns and Shimkus have emerged on a letter supporting the candidacy of Barton.
According to The Daily Caller, the pair signaled that they would desire the Chair only in the event that Barton does not receive the waiver necessary to continue atop the Republican side of the E&C aisle.
Lee Terry (R-NE) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are two others of the eight who signed the letter. Both have expressed interest in communications matters before the Committee, and Terry recently expressed interest in the chair of the communications subcommittee, currently held by Stearns, should it come open.
The letter focused on Barton’s stewardship of the Republican membership while in the minority, saying he led a “brutal markup” of the Democratic health bill, eating up 17 days, and also cited his strong opposition to Democratic energy and net-neutrality proposals.
Upton is widely seen as the more moderate candidate of the two, and has been attacked for that very reason. He has since shored up his support among conservatives.
A resolution to the contest is expected sooner rather than later.
Pictured: Joe Barton (R-TX)