Tomorrow’s Massachusetts senate vote to replace John Kerry is a ho-hum affair, with Rep. Ed Markey (D) predicted to win a double-digit victory over political new-comer and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez. It’s the downstream effect of Markey’s win that’s more perplexing to watch.
In a show of group-think that few but environmentalists could engineer, 178 organizations have written Nancy Pelosi to endorse Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva for ranking minority member of the House Natural Resources Committee, a position Markey now holds and, of course, would have to give up when he moves to the Senate.
The enviro letter mimics an earlier campaign that asked President Obama to appoint Grijalva as Secretary of Interior; a campaign that began before then-incumbent Ken Salazar had even announced his departure. Obama passed over Grijalva, choosing REI CEO Sally Jewell for the post.
For any who thought the Grijalva-for-Interior initiative was a longshot (e.g., I), consider the odds against his promotion to ranking minority member. Standing prominently in the way is Oregon congressman Peter DeFazio, who as the second-ranking Democrat currently on the committee has the inside track to succeed Markey. Mr. Grijalva, by contrast, is currently the committee’s 6th-ranking Democrat.
Belying its title, seniority is not everything when it comes to choosing the ranking minority member. But, it counts for a lot. The Democratic Policy and Steering Committee makes the decision, which is based on such things as merit, length of service on the committee, seniority, commitment to the party’s agenda, and diversity. Mr. DeFazio serves on the Policy and Steering committee; Mr. Grijalva does not.
Grijalva’s bid is the longest of long shots. In no other House committee is the ranking minority member as relatively junior a member as is Grijalva.
In a House controlled by Republicans, environmental groups count few friends in leadership positions. Pissing off one of the most senior Democrats in a naive, shoot-the-moon tactic ensures even fewer.