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Rep. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) said today that she would not challenge Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) for the soon-to-be vacated top Democratic slot on the Financial Services Committee.
Ranking member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced this week that he will retire at the end of his term, setting the stage for Waters, an 11-term lawmaker and the next-highest-ranking Member on the committee, to take his spot in the 113th Congress.
Immediately after Frank’s announcement, however, speculation abounded that Maloney, who has represented New York for 10 terms, would make a play for the gavel. But Maloney set the record straight today by saying she would not face Waters.
“I’m not challenging Maxine,” she told Roll Call in a brief interview. “I’m just working on doing a good job, and all of us should be focused on taking back the House. That’s what I’m focused on.”
Maloney called Waters on Wednesday and informed her of her intention not to try to jump rank, according to a Congressional source.
Still, that does not necessarily mean Maloney won’t end up in the center seat. Waters is under an ethics investigation that is set to wrap up sometime next year, and the results could make it problematic for leaders to appoint her to a top committee slot.
If that is the case, Maloney could become the lead Democrat on the panel without having to challenge anyone.
Waters’ allies, however, have already tossed around some strong rhetoric about the race, with one staffer to a member of the Congressional Black Caucus vowing “Armageddon” should Waters be passed over.
Correction: Dec. 1, 2011
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated which day Rep. Carolyn Maloney called Rep. Maxine Waters.