Joe Barton (R-FL), the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, continues to maintain optimism about his chances of hurdling a term limit and taking the chair of the committee once the new Republican House majority is seated in January. But according to a report in Politico, the gavel seems headed to Fred Upton (R-MI).
Upton had been taking hits from the right, suggesting he is too moderate to hold such a high-profile position in the new GOP leadership structure, but has been shoring up his conservative bona fides and enlisting aid from prominent conservative members of the caucus.
Also, and most importantly he is said to have the private support of speaker-in-waiting John Boehner (R-IL).
Upton has a great deal of experience dealing with broadcast matters as the former party leader of the influential Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet (in earlier incarnations with different names).
Joining Barton as increasingly darker horses are current Communications Subcommittee Ranking Member Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and John Shimkus (R-IL).
A decision is expected early next week.
RBR-TVBR observation: It will be interesting to see who winds up heading the subcommittee. The full committee figures to be spending a great deal of time on health care and energy issues, so most of the broadcast action in 2011 may well be concentrated at the subcommittee level. The Democrats for sure need a new leader there, and the Republicans might as well.