I had a bit of fun over the weekend on Twitter teasing people who were absolutely convinced that Rep. Louie Gohmert was going to unseat Rep. John Boehner as Speaker of the House. Because honestly, while I can’t stand John Boehner any more than, well, the next person who can’t stand John Boehner, it’s unlikely that any real challenge to his leadership, launched on Friday for an election on Tuesday, is anything more than a publicity stunt. And while Louie Gohmert may be skilled at instructing the administration to keep their aspersions off his asparagus, he’s not quite what I’d consider leadership material, at least in Congress. In a game of Capture the Flag against ISIS, I’d elect him in a heartbeat.
The latest Republicans to announce plans to oppose Boehner are Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, Iowa Rep. Steve King and Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, who all made public their intentions in Sunday evening statements. That makes at least eight House Republicans who have publicly come out against Boehner’s re-election, with more expected Monday.
“Trust is a series of promises kept; my vote for new leadership reflects a promise I made to voters when they elected me,” Gosar said. “I cannot stand beside the same leadership that has offered up bills too large to read, used parliamentary tricks to bring bills to the floor and has refused to take swift action against the president and his administration’s unconstitutional actions.”
The official speaker’s election is set for Tuesday, when the House will convene for a public floor vote to open the new Congress.
While the vote is usually just a formality, the hope of the anti-Boehner bloc is for enough Republicans to deny Boehner a majority of the vote, forcing him out of the race. Under the rules, that would likely require about 30 Republicans voting for someone else.
All of the challengers are what you might consider the more “hard line” of the Tea Party caucus, I suppose, were you to consider them at all. Not mentioned are Rep. Ted Yoho, who also threw his hat into the ring over the weekend, and Rep. Thomas Massie, and Rep. Jim Bridenstin, who aren’t officially running against Boehner but won’t be casting a vote for him. Also not mentioned? That most of this was all settled when House Republicans held their House Republican Leadership Conference after the election results had come through. Were any of these men serious about actually unseating the Speaker, they would have announced their intention to challenge him back then. As of right now, all they can do is create an embarrassing series of votes that might effectively communicate no confidence. But I suspect Boehner is not crying in a fetal position in his Mystic Tan booth.
I say that because most of these challenges aren’t taking into account that Boehner has a much larger margin of error now than the last time he faced an internal challenge. Because he has to take one more vote than half the House (218 votes in total), he can spare up to 29 Republican votes and still come away with the gavel. I also say that because the people who would actually pose a challenge to Boehner, Tea Party and otherwise, aren’t among the potential candidates for replacement. Gohmert is fine, but he’s mostly a firebrand, as is King. While both are more conservative than Boehner, neither could form a coalition among existing Representatives that would earn them 218 votes. Rep. Trey Gowdy would be a more obvious choice for a conservative challenger, as would Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, or Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, or even Rep. Peter Roskam, whom Rep. Steve Scalise leapfrogged over for his leadership position. But they’re all, sadly, sitting the contest out.
Boehner sucks, but don’t get your hopes up.
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