Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican from Tulare, threw his cloak and dagger into the ring on Friday when he announced his intention to seek the chairmanship of the secretive House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Nunes has served on the committee since early 2011. He made public his intentions following the retirement announcement by the current chairman, Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan. Rogers will retire at the end of the year.
"Under his leadership, the committee functioned in an effective, bipartisan way," Nunes declared in a written statement, adding that "I ... would be privileged to be considered as his successor as chairman."
The 40-year-old Nunes has competition for the high-prestige gavel, as other Republican lawmakers including Rep. Peter King of New York likewise voiced interest in the chairmanship following Rogers' surprise announcement. The selection will be made by House Speaker John Boehner, who need not take seniority into account.
The committee's most senior Republican, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, said in a statement quoted by Roll Call that his focus was on potentially taking chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee next year.
Nunes currently has a leadership role, as chairman of the trade subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. On the intelligence panel, he serves on the subcommittee handling terrorism, human intelligence, analysis and counterintelligence.
The 21-member House intelligence committee oversees the 17 agencies that comprise the sprawling intelligence community, and is tasked with writing the annual authorization bill giving money and guidance.
The last Californian to chair the panel was Democrat Anthony Beilenson, who was in charge from 1989 to 1991. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein currently chairs the Senate intelligence panel.