Democratic Rep. John Garamendi is challenging Rep. Peter A. DeFazio for the ranking member slot on Transportation and Infrastructure.
DeFazio was considered a shoe-in after the Tuesday night defeat of ranking member Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia. But now DeFazio is facing a fight.
Both Garamendi, of California, and DeFazio, of Oregon, were re-elected Tuesday.
DeFazio made a successful play last year to be the ranking member on Natural Resources, so the quick jump from one leadership slot to another might give some members reason to pause — and it's something Garamendi could latch onto in his campaign for the assignment. But DeFazio is the second most senior Democrat on Transportation and Infrastructure, and it's no secret the panel's legislative portfolio is the closest to the lawmaker's heart.
Garamendi, in his third term, ranks significantly lower than 14-term DeFazio in ranking, so he'll have a challenge ahead of him in a caucus that places a high premium on the seniority system. He is, however, ranking member on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, a role he highlighted in a "Dear Colleague" letter sent to members on Wednesday night.
Drawing on the bipartisan comity Rahall was able to cultivate with Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., Garamendi said he was also well-equipped to work across the aisle.
"With major legislative initiatives on the horizon that include surface transportation, FAA, and Amtrak reauthorization, the Democratic transportation agenda calls for a strong, inclusive, proactive leader who looks beyond divisive dualities to facilitate opportunity, momentum, and results," Garamendi wrote. "This is the leadership I aim to bring."
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