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With Speakership on Line, Should Boehner Rest Easy?

The key isn't disgruntled Republicans so much as a lack of speakers-in-waiting in the wings.

by
Bill Straub

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January 2, 2013 - 1:52 pm
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Don’t be surprised if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is spotted strolling the corridors of the nation’s Capitol whistling the old Rolling Stones song “Time Is On My Side.’’

Despite the failure of his fiscal cliff proposal, known as Plan B, to generate sufficient Republican votes to win passage and his inability to stop the House and Senate from raising income tax rates on those earning more than $450,000 per year, it appears the Ohio Republican will likely retain the speaker’s position in Thursday’s lower chamber vote.

“I don’t think anyone will challenge the speaker tomorrow,’’ said one Hill GOP staffer close to the situation.

With only a few hours to go before the House leadership election, no one has stepped forward to issue a challenge despite audible grumbling from the party’s conservative wing. And while Boehner has his detractors in the House, most of the criticism is coming from outside groups like American Majority, a conservative organization that helps train like-minded potential candidates.

“The world might not have ended today but Speaker Boehner’s power is at an end,’’ said Ron Meyer, a spokesman for the group. “It’s time to make room for fresh leadership and a new approach to governing.’’

But even Boehner’s most severe critics acknowledge that his return to the speaker’s chair is almost assured, given that so little time exists for anyone to mount a serious challenge. Two often-cited potential competitors, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, of Virginia, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee and last year’s party vice presidential candidate, are not waging visible campaigns.

Doug Heye, Cantor’s spokesman, took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce, “Majority Leader Cantor stands with @SpeakerBoehner. Speculation otherwise is silly, non-productive and untrue.’’

Boehner over the past several days has expressed optimism over retaining his position.

“No, I’m not,’’ when asked at a recent press conference if he is concerned about his leadership status. “Listen, you have all heard me say this, and I have told my colleagues this — if you do the right things every day for the right reasons, the right things will happen.’’

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