Barton Tries For Minority Leader

Joe Barton (R-Te.x), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee until January, has thrown his hat in the ring for House minority leader.

He pledged to re-take the House by the 2012 election and to gain seats in each intervening one. "After prayerful consideration and literally hundreds of discussions with my colleagues," he said, "I have decided to seek the position of Republican leader."

Barton took a pragmatic approach to telecommunications reform in the present Congress, stripping the House bill of all but the issue of video franchise reform and managing to get it passed in the HOuse--he had challenged reporters to bet against him. The net neutrality issue effectively killed the Senate version of the bill, with Democrats pledging to take a new look at telecom reform when they take over in January, though whether the Bells will be on board for another go at it is problematic.

Barton has been a tough sell for broadcasters on some key issues, particularly digital multicast must-carry, which he flatly opposed, even writing the FCC to ask Chairman Kevin Martin to ask him not to proceed with a vote on it back in June

Martin wound up pulling the item from the agenda after he could not line up Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell's deciding vote for it.