John Boehner is a near certain bet to win a third term as speaker, but his allies concede that he could lose the support of between a dozen and 20 of his fellow Republicans.
The House will vote Tuesday on the Ohio Republican’s bid to serve a third term as speaker. He needs to garner the support of 217 lawmakers, meaning that opposition from 29 House Republicans could lose him the speaker’s gavel. In 2013, when Republicans had a smaller majority, Boehner narrowly retained the speakership, losing the support of 11 Republicans. Losing a dozen votes hurts Boehner, but is not fatal for his speakership.
There remains a growing pocket of opposition that Boehner’s allies think they have under control. This group is angry at Boehner for crafting a yearlong, $1.1 trillion spending bill that didn’t directly target President Barack Obama’s use of executive action to loosen immigration enforcement.
So far, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and Florida Rep. Ted Yoho have announced they will challenge Boehner – both long-shot candidates, at best.
And as of Monday morning, the anti-Boehner crowd was far from where it needed to be to force a second-ballot vote. Those who have said they will vote against Boehner include Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, Iowa Rep. Steve King and new Republican Reps. Gary Palmer of Alabama and Dave Brat of Virginia. Stutzman and King voted for Boehner in 2013. Brat’s predecessor – Eric Cantor – also voted for Boehner. Stutzman lost his own bid for Republican whip in June.
Those of us who have been longtime Boehner detractors would love nothing more than seeing him replaced as speaker. While it is comforting to see some members of the House who will publicly oppose him, it’s all still a very long shot.
This would have more meaning if Boehner and his flying monkeys were open to a dialog about why conservatives are disgruntled, but that probably won’t be the case. It is more likely that he will seek to marginalize and punish those who were vocal in their opposition. Current GOP leadership in both the House and Senate are far more interested in fiercely battling conservatives in their own ranks than they are Democrats.
Hopefully, conservatives in Washington can keep pressing their case and make some gains before the base is permanently alienated. That’s a reality that is much closer than leadership thinks.