The smackdown between two House chairmen for the Energy Committee gavel will be decided today. While Waxman won the first round, Dem sources tell me Dingell always expected to lose the committee vote and is confident he will win a referendum of the full caucus. Not only does he have the endorsement of Barney Frank, which carries a lot of sway with younger members, he also has the support of a majority of the black caucus, a must-win demographic for Waxman.
As one Dem leadership source put it to me:
Member A, a Democratic Committee Chairman, routinely votes against the Party’s position on defining issues, endorses the Republican candidate for President, spends months campaigning with that nominee, denounces Barack Obama as “naive” and “dangerous” and keynotes the Republican convention.
Member B, also a Democratic Chairman, raises more than $2 million to elect Democrats to Congress, helps expand the majority, helps deliver two new congressional seats in his home state and votes with the Party 97 percent of the time.
Which one gets an intraparty challenge for the gavel of the Committee?
In other words, many — likely a majority — in the Dem caucus don’t feel Dingell deserves to lose his gavel.