At this moment Washington collective wisdom points to House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio as the next speaker of the House if the Republicans win control of the House of Representatives, as expected, on November 2.
Collective wisdom is often wrong. For politics by its very nature is unpredictable — just ask Scott Brown, the Republican senator from Massachusetts, now sitting in the “Kennedy seat.”
Washington wisdom regarding “Speaker” Boehner could be challenged if the Republican House victory is perceived as an overwhelming victory for the young conservative movement led by the self-titled “Young Guns,” comprised of Eric Cantor (the leader), Paul Ryan (the thinker), and Kevin McCarthy (the strategist).
Their book/manifesto titled Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders is aptly named. PJ Media CEO Roger L. Simon dubbed Young Guns “The Conservative 2.0 Campaign Book” back in mid-September, which was also when it grabbed such headlines as the Washington Post’s “With new book, Cantor disavows power grab.”
So will Boehner’s number-two man, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, force Boehner to a duel for speaker of the House?
Not likely, but not totally out of the realm of possibility either. For conservative leaders outside of Congress are less than wildly enthusiastic about “Speaker” Boehner and offer lukewarm support.
Cantor is on record as saying he will support Boehner as speaker, but if his young conservative revolution has some really strong tailwinds coming off November 2, all bets are off.
According to the same Washington Post piece, “Of course this Boehner-Cantor alliance could fray if the Republicans win.”
The question is: by how many seats will the Republicans take the House and do larger numbers of freshmen benefit Cantor or Boehner?
The possibility surely exists for a duel if a newly enlarged posse of “gun-toting” young’uns feels Eric Cantor best represents who they are, what they campaigned on, and what they hope to accomplish in Congress.
Keep in mind that the back cover of Young Guns says: “Together the Young Guns are changing the face of the Republican Party … .” Of course that face could be Boehner’s.
Meanwhile, Cantor, Ryan, and McCarthy have been busy crisscrossing the country campaigning for more “young gun” congressional candidates with the intent of storming Capitol Hill, raising the flag of a new young conservative revolution, then getting to work charting a course of limited government, free markets, fiscal responsibility, and a rebranding of the Republican Party.
(Although notice how seldom the word “Republican” is used to describe this group.)
Take the hot-button issue of earmarks, for example. Last week Eric Cantor fired off what could be perceived as a mild shot at Boehner, by advocating an outright end to earmarks — stronger language then Boehner’s oddly worded recent commitment to end earmarks “as we know them.”
It’s probably all high-stakes semantics, but it might also be Eric Cantor further positioning himself as the ultimate fiscal hawk to all the newly elected members who might want to be more closely identified with him over Boehner.
However, it has been widely reported that Boehner provides “adult leadership” and “scoffs at suggestions” that the “Young Guns” might undermine his leadership. “They are some of our brightest, most energetic members,” he said in a telephone interview between campaign stops for House candidates in the Dakotas as reported in a very fair and balanced Huffington Post piece (“John Boehner: Speaker-in-Waiting?“).