Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weiner Resignation Could Thwart Faleomavaega Ambitions

As unimaginable as it may sound, the resignation of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), may have thwarted Faleomavaega's ambitions to rise to the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a prospect that undoubtedly sends chills up the spine of House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi and other senior leaders in her party.

All the stars would have had to line up right next year for it to happen but it is quite possible that Democrats could retake the House while Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), the full committee chairman, and Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the second ranking Democrat on the committee, were losing re-election battles.  That scenario would put third ranking Faleomavaega in line to become chairman.

As unlikely as it would seem for Berman and Ackerman to be be in trouble in their safe seats, they will be running in newly configured districts, thanks to redistricting resulting out of the 2010 census.   If Democrats were to catch a wave, normally the two veterans would be among the least likely to be in trouble.  However, a new non-partisan redistricting commission has thrown Berman into the same district with another senior Democrat, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).  There is said to be no love lost between the two men and, if they should decide to square off against each other, there is no certainty in the outcome.

Meanwhile, in New York, the state legislature must redraw the district lines in a way to adjust for the loss of two seats as a result of decennial reapportionment.  There has been a gentleman's agreement that one seat would be eliminated in the Republican leaning upstate area and the second seat would be taken from the New York City area, where Ackerman's constituency is.

Now that Weiner has resigned, it makes the job easier for the legislature, which simply can eliminate his seat and make all the other incumbents, including Ackerman, safe for re-election.  So, if Berman were to lose next year, the Democrats still should have Ackerman in place to block Faleomavaega's rise.  Of course, Democrats still would have to win back the majority and it is much to early to tell if that could happen.

But more than likely, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.  American foreign policy should be safe for another two years.  Nonetheless, all three men are getting up there in years (Berman is 70; Ackerman is 68; and Faleomavaega is 67) and Faleomavaega has been in poor health for a number of years.  The retirement of death of any of them would change the equation.  Stay tuned.

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