This strikes me as very good news.
By a three-vote margin, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee today recommended that Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman be given the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee, but a final decision will most likely be made by the full Democratic Caucus Thursday. The Steering Committee voted 25-22 in favor of Waxman to replace Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, according to lawmakers leaving the meeting.
If it's true that the freshmen are breaking heavily for Waxman, and older baron committee chairs are going for Dingell, this adds a lot of firepower to Waxman's case. Dingell is a vindictive guy, so his case rests on the notion that if you don't vote for him you're going to have problems with the person who will naturally be the Chair of Energy and Commerce. Cracking the image of inevitability is key to letting members know it's safe to go against Dingell.
The Lieberman fight was discouraging but quite expected. I'm with Jerome, Ezra, Digby on this one, it's a significant marker in how progressive Congress will be. If we get a Waxman led E&C Chair, an FCC favorable to net neutrality (run by gamers), and a Treasury Secretary who is not Larry Summers, I'll take Lieberman in the Senate. Obama wanted him, he got him, and now Obama can manage him.
Still, this House contest is not a done deal. Given that it's impossible to vote count from the outside and those who try look a bit foolish, I'm not too confident that these results mean what I hope they mean. But it's undeniable that Dingell's claims that he's going to win this one easily are simply wrong, and the notion that this is a more conservative Democratic caucus is being put to a very real test.
... The members of the steering committee are in the comments, and they tilt slightly liberal. So it's going to be close if Waxman gets it.