House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) announced Friday that he wants to lead House Republicans next year when Democrats assume control for the first time in 12 years.
"After prayerful consideration and literally hundreds of discussions with my colleagues, I have decided to seek the position of Republican leader. My guarantee is this: We will achieve a net gain of seats in each upcoming election cycle, and if we do not regain the majority within three election cycles, I will not seek the position of minority leader in the succeeding session,” Barton said in a prepared statement.
Barton has to yield his committee chairmanship in January after House Republicans were trounced at the polls Tuesday. Democrats are expected to control at least 230 of the chamber’s 435 seats. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is expected to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Barton’s decision made it a three-way race involving current Majority Leaders Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and conservative backbencher Mike Pence (R-Ind.). The elections are being held Nov. 17. On Wednesday, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said he would not seek the leadership post.
Barton’s election would be positive for cable given his strong opposition to network-neutrality and multicast-must-carry mandates.
National Association of Broadcasters president David Rehr said Wednesday that he was pleased that Dingell was replacing Barton.
“I think Mr. Dingell, frankly, is an improvement for us over Mr. Barton,” Rehr said. “I actually think we’re probably a little bit better off because Joe Barton was so resistant, so much in cement. He was just a cable guy.”