Brad Sherman defeated Howard Berman in their Los Angeles area district. He already had announced he would seek Berman’s spot as the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee whould he win.
(California law pits the two top primaries vote getters against each other in the election, so this weas Democrat v. Democrat — actually, a Jewish Democrat v. Jewish Democrat — race.)
Also bidding for the top spot are Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, from Samoa, and Eliot Engel from New York.
Engel yesterday showed a strong start, garnering the support of nine of the ten Democrats who were reelected and who are not running — and all of the Remaining Jewish Members Who Are Not Named Eliot or Brad, i.e., Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), Ted Deutch (Fla.) and David Cicilline (R.I.). (The holdout among the ten Democrats is Karen Bass, Calif. I’m trying to find out whom she is backing.)
Faleomavaega has seniority, but no non-voting member of Congress has ever chaired a committee. Sherman and Engel each has an arcane claim to second in seniority.
But what really decides this is the leadership, with an ear to the rank-and-file — hence, the strong start for Engel.
Letter from the nine members to the full Democratic caucus below the jump.
Dear Democratic Colleague:
As members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, we write to express our strong support for Eliot Engel to become Ranking Member of the Committee in the 113th Congress. We have had the opportunity to serve with Eliot on the Committee for the past several years and would like you to know that he has the experience, temperament, and knowledge which this position requires.
Eliot has a long record of legislative accomplishment on foreign policy issues. He has chaired many hearings, managed legislation on the floor, and has authored important bills and amendments under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Affairs Committee. His Syria Accountability Act is the landmark sanctions law imposing penalties on the Assad regime and his Stop TB Act is the key measure pressing for treatment and prevention for Tuberculosis in impoverished regions of Africa and elsewhere.
As strong supporters of America’s engagement around the world, we firmly agree with Eliot that the United States must not pull back on its diplomatic presence in countries large and small. He is keenly aware that through our assistance efforts, we are able to help millions of people in scores of countries while promoting U.S. interests and national security.
Diplomacy and tact are also key skills of a leader of the Foreign Affairs Committee. We are pleased to attest that from his many years of experience, Eliot has the judgment, ability, and discretion required for effective diplomatic exchanges. He has also travelled widely in all corners of the globe and has developed remarkably good relationships with leaders of a variety of countries.
Finally, we firmly believe that Eliot will not only make a successful Ranking Member of the Committee, but we believe that he will embrace a consensus-driven approach reflecting all aspects of the Democratic Caucus and work with President Obama’s Administration to advance Democratic principles.
For the last several years, we have been honored to serve under the leadership of Ranking Member Howard Berman. We believe that Eliot Engel is the best candidate to carry on Howard’s fine tradition, and he has our strong support.
Thank you for taking the time to consider our views.
Gregory W. Meeks Albio Sires
Gerald E. Connolly Theodore E. Deutsch
Brian Higgins William R. Keating
David N. Cicilline Frederica S. Wilson
Allyson Y. Schwartz