Grandstanding tea party Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has announced his intentions to dethrone John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House. While it is hard to imagine the the bombastic East Texas Congressman has much of a chance, his challenge signifies the difficulty Speaker Boehner faces from the radical wing of his party. Gohmert made his announcement on Fox & Friends on Sunday.
Gohmert criticized Boehner for supporting “amnesty” and for signing the cromnibus spending bill. Gohmert accused Boehner of broken promises, and argued that it was time for the House to change course.
Whether Gohmert poses a serious challenge to Boehner or just a minor irritation remains to be seen. Ted Yoho of Florida and Thomas Massie of Kentucky have already indicated that they will not support Boehner for Speaker when the new Congress convenes. Each of them, as well as Gohmert, voted against Boehner as Speaker in 2013 as well. At that time, nine Republicans voted against Boehner for House Speaker. Boehner secured enough votes to retain his position, but with just six votes to spare.
So far the Republican members who have said they will vote against Boehner, are the usual suspects who have voted against him in the past. In addition, Gohmert’s reputation for being just plain goofy, probably limits his appeal even to some conservatives who may be deeply dissatisfied with Boehner as their leader.
Despite Gohmert’s weak candidacy, Speaker Boehner cannot afford to take dissent within the GOP ranks lightly. Around thirty Republicans would need to revolt to deny Boehner his Speaker position. That seems highly unlikely. Gohmert and other firebrands like him, however, will continue to try to flex their political muscle to pull the party further to the right. In the process, they will give John Boehner a few more headaches in the months ahead.
Even if Speaker Boehner staves of the Gohmert challenge as expected, his efforts to contain the fringe elements within his party will be far from over. The next two years could be a wild ride for the tea party flavored GOP House as the pragmatists and dogmatists duke it out for supremacy within the Republican Party ranks.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.