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Grijalva Eyes Comeback Bid on Natural Resources Committee

Grijalva is eyeing another bid to be ranking member of Natural Resources. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Grijalva is eyeing another bid to be ranking member of Natural Resources. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After falling short last year, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva will try to win the ranking member slot of the Natural Resources Committee for a second time, the Arizona Democrat’s office confirmed to CQ Roll Call.  

He’ll likely be facing off against a more senior member of the committee, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-Calif., whose spokesman said she is “considering all options and hasn’t ruled anything out.”  

In a caucus that’s grappling with its long-standing deference to the seniority system as new members begin to outnumber the old guard, Grijalva could even end up challenging Democratic Del. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega from American Samoa, who is more senior than the two of them and agreed to stand down in a race for ranking member on the Foreign Affairs panel in 2012. Faleomavaega would be a long shot, however. His spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment, and as of Wednesday afternoon The Associated Press had not yet called his race for re-election . He has also been in poor health over the past Congress, meaning he has not been as present on Capitol Hill. And as a delegate, he does not get to vote on the House floor.  

One seniority notch below Faleomavaega on the panel is Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., who is currently running to be the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Though aides have speculated Pallone could be given the Natural Resources seat as a consolation prize in the event he loses against Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California, a source close to Pallone dismissed that scenario.  

Members are anticipating the Natural Resources spot will become available when the current ranking member, Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, successfully takes the top Democratic slot on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. That post is open after Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., lost his re-election bid on Tuesday night.  

Grijalva lost to DeFazio last year  after then-ranking member Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., won a special election in the Senate.  

Should Grijalva and Napolitano both be in the race, Grijalva would be testing not only the seniority system but the loyalties of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which both are members. He would also be asking for support from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Napolitano might be a member but Grijalva holds the distinction of being the co-chairman.  

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