The Raul Grijalva-Peter DeFazio battle for ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee is heating up, the online DC-based Politico site reports this week. DeFazio, of Oregon, claims support for this post from 40 House Democrats. He's the committee's senior Democrat now that Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts has been elected to the U.S. Senate to replace Sen. John Kerry who became U.S. Secretary of State.

Grijalva admits that as the committee's fifth-ranking Democrat, he faces an uphill battle. But the six-term Democrat says that new voices are needed and he'll better represent younger, Latino, Native American and African-American viewpoints on the all-important House resources panel.

DeFazio told Politico: "I bring 26½ years of experience in the natural resources battles with the Republicans to the job."

Grijalva told the website: “The thing I’m running against is not so much the person I chose to challenge, Mr. DeFazio, but it is the concept of seniority. That trumps everything else in people’s minds."