Linking to a story from The Hill, The Web site TPM.com says that “an increasing number of Republicans” are calling on Joe Barton to resign as ranking member of the committee that oversees energy (among several other critical regulatory responsibilities.) Majority leader Mitch McConnell added, “I couldn’t disagree with Joe Barton more.”
Barton need not fear any political fallout from his revealing remarks. As has been the case for many years, incumbent House members of either party almost never lose because of their record. They lose because of changes in the political climate: witness D’s in 1994 and R’s in 2006. The power of incumbency when it comes to fundraising and the lack of media coverage in the district (other than reprinting members’ press releases) makes them invulnerable, even from primary opposition. (In Texas, in a normal year, it is rare for Republican challengers to beat Democratic incumbents.) Furthermore, as long as Texas remains a one-party Republican state, Republicans are virtually guaranteed of reelection. Democrats took their shot at some Republicans in 08 – notably Michael McCaul and John Culberson – and came up empty. The Republican delegation is decidedly lackluster (Barton is one of the heavyweights) but there is nothing Democrats can do about it.