The plot to seize the speakership from John Boehner
Ever since the Republicans regained control of the House in 2010, some conservatives have sought to replace Rep. John Boehner as speaker.
Boehner has managed to fight off challenges to his leadership in the past. But there appears to be a serious revolt brewing among a growing number of conservatives who are unhappy with Boehner's approach to the 2014 mid terms.
The Hill thinks that the current challenge to Boehner is the most serious to date:
The strategy — for now — seems disorganized and fluid: Find a way to push the Speaker’s race to a second ballot, create turmoil in the conference, portray Boehner as highly vulnerable and offer up an alternative.
The behind-the-scenes effort is taking place as Team Boehner is projecting confidence he will coast to a third term as Speaker, pointing to his unrivaled fundraising prowess and ability to corral his rowdy caucus, for example, to keep the government open and provide arms to moderate Syrian rebels.
Boehner is “back on top,” The Wall Street Journal declared.
Yet behind all the chest-thumping, the picture is less rosy for the 64-year-old Ohio Republican.
A number of conservative lawmakers, both in interviews on the record and on background, described enormous frustration with Boehner and his top lieutenants for taking too safe a political route ahead of the 2014 elections.
“In tough times, it doesn’t mean you play timid, it means to play bold, and I don’t see that. And you know what? Time’s up,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who vowed to vote against Boehner, told The Hill in an interview. “I’m tired of the status quo of what’s going on in Washington, D.C. America’s tired, America’s angry and they’re scared, because they don’t have leaders in Washington, D.C.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was more succinct: “I’ll give him every bit as much support as I did last time.”
Gohmert in 2013 was one of a dozen Republicans who didn’t support Boehner for Speaker. Ten of them will return to the next Congress and have a vote on Boehner’s future.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), also said he’ll again vote against Boehner, even though he admitted it could be a suicide mission.
A handful of other conservative rabble-rousers, including Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, declined to say whether they would vote to give Boehner a third two-year term.
“When he makes an announcement on what his career is, I’ll start to contemplate that, but I haven’t really given it any thought in any kind of broader discussion,” said King.
There appears to be a wait and see attitude by many on the right, with GOP performance in the mid terms as a yardstick to measure Boehner's success.
But even if Republican gains are less than expected, it will take a huge effort to unseat the speaker. In the past, few have been willing to risk Boehner;s wrath by voting against him. Everything from the trivial (prime office space) to the politically vital (plum committee assignments) are within the purview of Boehner/s job as speaker. So the rebels are taking a huge risk in pushing the movement to replace the speaker forward.
On the other hand. frustration has been building over Boehner's non-confrontational strategy. His "play it safe" mantra is causing a lot of anxiousness in the caucus - and not only among conservatives. The Democrats have been pounding Republicans with the "war on women" and inequality themes with little or nor response from the House leadership. In effect, Boehner is playing a "prevent defense" and the Dems are racking up huge yardage.
This strategy will keep the House safely in GOP hands but probably limit their gains. Instead of winning 12-15 seats, the GOP is likely to increase their majority by only 5-7. Would a more aggressive speaker have done better? On that question, Boehner's fate will hang.