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Democrats line up for Waxman’s prime committee post

Rep. Frank Pallone shown June 10. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP)
Rep. Frank Pallone shown June 10. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP)

Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) retirement already has two Democrats gunning for a prime committee slot, and it could draw interest from the longest-serving member of the House.

Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) both announced Monday that they will seek to become the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That top Democrat would stand to become chairman or chairwoman if Democrats took control of the House.

"As the person tasked with developing the Democratic caucus’ message on the House floor, I believe I would be the most effective voice to lead the committee toward a successful future," Pallone said in a statement.

Eshoo said: "It is because of this far-reaching opportunity to put America in the best position to compete globally that I seek this position."

Pallone ranks third on the committee. He has served in Congress since 1988 and ran unsuccessfully for Senate last year, losing a primary to now-Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Eshoo ranks fifth on the committee. An 11-termer from the Silicon Valley area, she is close to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The x-factor here is whether the committee's longtime chairman and second-ranking Democrat, Rep. John Dingell (Mich.), will attempt to regain the top Democratic slot. Dingell held the gavel for a total of 16 years spanning three decades, but was usurped in 2009 by Waxman.

Dingell is keeping his options open.

“I’m boarding a flight back to Washington now, but nothing has changed since my statement last week," Dingell said in a statement Monday. "I look forward to continuing to give this thoughtful consideration, speaking with my colleagues upon my return, and from there I will find the absolute best ways in which I can serve the people of Michigan’s 12th congressional district.”

Updated at 1:53 p.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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