I spoke this afternoon with Rep. Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.), who is vying with Reps. Upton and Shimkus to be chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. His agenda sounds a lot like Upton’s: He wants to repeal and replace Obamacare, block net-neutrality regulations, make Sebelius and Berwick testify, and so forth. The main difference, according to Stearns? He has more private-sector experience. “I’ve dealt with the EPA, the insurers, workmen’s comp, FICA, trying to provide health care to my employees, all these other issues.” He also touts his record of getting conservative legislation enacted, such as the law that blocked municipal lawsuits against the gunmakers.
When he makes his case to other congressmen, he says, “I say you need someone who has shown leadership inside and outside Congress, who understands how businesses exist and what they need.” Stearns is an underdog in this race, but Republicans could do worse.