I read that 3 big committee chairmanships went to non-senior congressmen after challenges. I'm not sure if they're the most competent (in subject matter expertise or managerial expertise) to run the committees but at least it's evolving into something beyond blind seniority. There's disturbing signs that Waxman got his chairmanship simply by being close to the Speaker, as opposed to superior competency. I'll investigate further if I have the luxury to do so.
In 2010 republicans have the chance to do a 1994 and pick up some purple house seats occupied by vulnerable democrats. For technocrats, I think the real battle is the Republican primaries -we should get highly competent (think elite JD, MPA, such as local law and public policy professors) people to run in these Republican primaries.