It's a good bet the House Appropriations Committee next year will have a woman in the top Democratic position for the first time. But who that woman will be--the more-senior Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, or the leadership-friendly Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.--is less clear.
Lowey won't say outright whether she's running for the spot being vacated by Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash. "It would certainly be an honor if my colleagues selected me" is as close as she'll come.
But it's clear she's got her eye on it. And if the Mario Cuomo mentee's reputation as a shrewd politician is anything to go by, it could be a fight. Full of smiles and small talk, Lowey exudes a sweet, maternal air--one aide described her as a prototypical Jewish grandmother, always asking members of her staff whether they're getting enough to eat. But she's also a formidable negotiator.
"She can make you smile while you're bleeding," former Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., once said of Lowey. "We call that 'the perfumed ice pick.' "
Lowey flashed a proud smile when she brought up the remark. It's why she'd be good at defending liberal priorities as the House's top Democratic spending negotiator, she said.