Waxman Counts on Freshmen to Win Energy Post

But Dingell thinks history, fear, money will allow him to keep chair
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2008 12:31 PM CST
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell of Michigan asks a question of a panel of witnesses on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2008.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – John Dingell has spent a lot more money than Henry Waxman in his quest to keep his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, lavishing gifts on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But Waxman has a strategy, Politico reports. The California rep gave generously to 19 promising Democratic candidates. Most won, and they'll come to Washington without reverence for Dingell’s glory days.

Dingell’s support comes primarily from conservative Blue Dog Democrats and influential Black Caucus members invested in the traditional seniority system. His supporters think he’ll win based on fear—no one, they think, wants to cross “the Truck.” But Waxman thinks his quiet majority of newcomers and liberals will win the day. Despite Dingell’s recent moves leftward on climate change, Waxman remains the stauncher environmentalist.