The thirty seconds in which it seemed like Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) seat atop the Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee might be in question led to quite a bit of quiet jockeying on the Hill for the right to fill the chair. Given that Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) often touts the fact he’s the “second-highest ranking Republican” on the committee all over the place and that he was named to that deputy spot behind Barton last February, one might have assumed that Blunt would have been next in line.
Republican aides weren’t willing to say this on the record, but TPMDC learned that Blunt was never under consideration to get the spot. GOP leadership aides made it clear that Rep. Fred Upton (MI) was most likely to get the spot, with Rep. John Shimkus (IL) the contender behind Upton.Committee staffers confirmed this list is the most accurate in terms of committee rank — and Blunt’s name is nowhere near the top despite holding the title. (All those other GOPers hold ranking member slots on subcommittees.) Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) is more senior than Upton, but he is ranking member on the Science Committee.
One reason for Blunt’s invisibility to the real House leadership is his Senate candidacy — and the GOP’s confidence that he could win. He’s running against Robin Carnahan (D) this fall.
But Blunt’s constant touting of that “second-highest” moniker is just odd, since it’s not exactly a common Washington descriptor. Perhaps it’s nicer to say than “former Republican Whip.” Blunt served as Majority Whip until 2006 when Republicans lost power, and stepped aside after the 2008 elections when the GOP lost more seats, to avoid an intraparty battle with Rep. Eric Cantor.
The Fired Up Missouri blog also reported on this issue.