The Year in Review: Revisiting the notable Valley events of 1994 : McKeon, the Friend of Newt : Congress: Relative newcomer gained clout as veteran Moorhead was bypassed for two choice chairmanships.


When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives last month, the last-quarter political bang empowered two San Fernando Valley congressmen, with one upstart lawmaker winning far more than his veteran cross-town colleague.

Surprising political analysts, seniority seemed to fall by the wayside when Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), relatively new to the Congress, emerged with as much clout as the dean of the state’s Republican delegation, Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead of Glendale.

Both men now have subcommittee chairmanships, important posts that their Democratic colleagues lost. But with House Speaker-designate Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) calling the shots, McKeon appears to have achieved another critical designation that Moorhead has not--Friend of Newt.


Moorhead had been waiting years for such a Republican landslide, and he spent election night mulling over which of two chairmanships he would take--the Energy and Commerce Committee, which handles matters affecting virtually all U. S. businesses, or the prestigious Judiciary Committee.

It was a congressman’s dream.

But Gingrich put a crimp in Moorhead’s plans. Consolidating power, Gingrich ignored the seniority system and named some of his own backers as committee chairmen instead.

In essence, Moorhead--regarded by Gingrich as insufficiently aggressive--was out.

The 11-term congressman still received a subcommittee chairmanship dealing with copyright and trademark issues, which will give him a gavel and the clout to control the flow of legislation for the first time in his career. But political analysts see the development as a humiliating blow.

Moorhead, for his part, is philosophical about being bypassed, comparing the new Congress to a football team and saying he had been asked to block.

McKeon, on the other hand, emerged with a smile on his face.

The one-term lawmaker lobbied hard to retain some of the prominence he gained over the last two years as the Republican freshman class president. It paid off.

He was appointed to the House National Security Committee, a high-profile post that will allow him to aid the ailing aerospace industry. And he became a subcommittee chairman, too, winning the top job on the subcommittee on post-secondary education, training and lifelong learning. He also participated in Gingrich’s transition team preparing for the start of the 104th Congress on Jan. 4.


Both Valley Republicans will have increased legislative clout as their party flexes its muscles in 1995. But Moorhead, the veteran, has agreed to allow his more activist colleagues to lead the charge, while McKeon, the newcomer, continues his push to become a part of the mix.