With Democrats navigating an identity politics labyrinth in their battle over who will take on incoming Chairman Darrell Issa on the House Oversight Committee in the next Congress, a key Republican aide says the GOP fears Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York far more than her rival, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
“Maloney actually poses more of a challenge for us in the majority than Cummings. Maloney knows this committee and the issues we deal with inside and out,” the source says.
Democrats have also remarked on Maloney’s record as a successful legislator and her effective staff. Cummings is known as popular, smart and “a fighter,” in the words of a top Democratic aide.
The GOP source says “Maloney will actually do things every day that could cause us headaches. Functionally, the biggest headaches that impact our operation aren’t the one’s that play out on TV. They’re policy, [and] legislative and that’s Maloney’s wheel-house.”
In contrast, “The reality is Cummings is ultimately there to be a presence on TV,” the source says. Cummings’ abilities on television would be worrisome for Republicans if Democrats controlled the panel, but since Issa will hold the gavel, it’s not as significant, the source says.
“Maloney as Ranking Member very much forces us to look at how we’re structuring our side of things on a functional level. Cummings, frankly, does not,” the source said.
The fight over who will represent Democrats in the top position on the Oversight Committee is crucial because Democrats fear the committee’s incoming chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, could wreak havoc next year.
That fear stems from Issa’s savvy tenure as ranking Republican on the panel under Democratic rule. Rather than a partisan bomb-thrower, like former Oversight Chairman Dan Burton, Issa has shown an independence and willingness to go after Republicans that brings credibility and makes him even more dangerous to Obama.