Barton thanks Markey for not running for Senate

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) believes the race between Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) and state Sen. Scott Brown (R) could have just as easily gone the other way, and he knows just who to thank for it.

During a House Energy and Commerce sub-committee hearing, Barton thanked Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) for NOT running in the Massachusetts Senate race.

"Mr. Chairman, thank you for two things," joked Barton, "holding this hearing, and not running for the Senate in Massachusetts," which resulted in chuckles from the audience.

"I think had you run," Barton continued, "the outcome would have been different and your side would be smiling ... and my side would not be -- well, we'd be smiling for you personally, but we wouldn't be smiling that the [Democrats] won, so we're glad you decided to stay in the House."

Even without the previously Democratic Senate seat, Republicans have plenty to smile about these days, amid a a slew of Democratic House retirements and a hopeful outlook for the 2010 midterm elections.