Shimkus markets himself in push for top GOP spot on energy panel

UPDATE: A Barton spokeswoman alerted E2 Tuesday evening about an unpublicized Dear Colleague letter that Barton sent House Republican incumbents Friday about his desire to be top Republican on Energy and Commerce. Barton indicated in that letter that repealing President Obama's health care overhaul plan would be the top priority for the panel under his guidance. 

Shimkus's appeal also points out that he raised a lot of money as vice chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and helped inexperienced colleagues as co-chairman of NRCC’s Mentoring Program this Congress.

“Working with both of these groups gave me a unique opportunity to see this election from a district-to-district point of view,” Shimkus wrote.

His experience in the mentoring program and on the Energy and Commerce Committee makes him "uniquely qualified among a group of talented contenders” to lead the panel, he wrote. Shimkus has served on all five of the panel’s subcommittees in 14 years and has been ranking Republican on three.

Shimkus is touting his conservative bona fides before a new House Republican majority that is expected to move rightward thanks to the influx of Tea Party freshmen.

“We continue to face an Administration with a far left agenda,” Shimkus wrote. “Now is not a time to moderate or compromise on our most deeply held values.”

Shimkus — the ranking Republican on the panel’s Health Subcommittee — said, “Clearly, the American people are looking for us to repeal and replace” Obama’s healthcare plan “while ensuring basic health care principles that will improve health care delivery for all of us.” He said this should be addressed the first week of the new Congress.  

He also promised to follow “regular order, allow amendments, and make sure every Member of our conference knows what is happening in Committee and how it will impact their district.”

Shimkus promised to lay out his agenda in greater detail over the next several weeks.

Barton last week sold his conservative credentials in a letter to incoming House Republican freshmen, many of whom might like his association with the Tea Party caucus.

Barton is essentially bypassing House GOP leaders in seeking another two-year term. He is arguing that House rules allow him to serve another Congress as top Republican on the panel without receiving a waiver. But House GOP leaders maintain that Barton does, in fact, need a waiver that they do not plan to grant him. Shimkus — considered a dark horse candidate for the job — is emphasizing that he is only seeking the position if Barton does not receive that waiver.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is the favorite to head the panel in the next Congress, but some conservatives hope to discredit him by alleging he is too moderate.

The Washington Examiner editorial board, for example, on Tuesday opined that Upton would be “wholly unsuitable for the job.”  

Upton of late has been trying to sell the more right-leaning side of his voting record, and House GOP leaders might be satisfied with votes he cast this Congress and money he raised for fellow Republicans.