Which Republicans Hate Boehner Enough To Vote Against Him For Speaker

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Tuesday, congressional Republicans will decide whether to keep John Boehner as Speaker of the House. While Boehner is likely to remain Speaker of the House, a conservative revolt is expected to generate a few votes against him. Conservative activists outside the capitol have been trying to drum up support for alternatives to Boehner. Rightwing talk show hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin have been stoking the flames of GOP discontent against the House leadership. Hannity’s preferred choice for Speaker is Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), but Gowdy isn’t interested. He plans to support Boehner.

Two Republicans have stepped up to challenge Boehner however. Texas Tea Party loon Louie Gohmert, and Florida Tea Party Congressman Ted Yoho, who thinks only property owners should be allowed to vote, have both announced their desire to dethrone Boehner as Speaker. Neither of these Congressmen are particularly popular even within their own party’s ranks. However, they are likely to siphon votes away from Boehner, as fellow GOP members of Congress work to express dissatisfaction with the leadership, or to burnish their anti-establishment reputations with their conservative constituents.

A dozen Republicans voted against Boehner or abstained from voting for speaker when Congress convened in 2013. He cleared the threshold needed to become speaker on the first ballot by a mere six votes. This year, because of the success of the GOP in the 2014 elections, Boehner ironically has a larger cushion to protect him from a Tea Party uprising. Around 29 Republicans would need to oppose the Speaker, for his position to be placed in any jeopardy.

Most whip counts put the GOP defection numbers well below the 29 or so votes they would need to topple the speaker. The Washington Post ”whip count” has the number of defections projected to be between 10 and 17 GOP members in the House. Three Republicans who opposed Boehner in 2013, are expected to support him this time around. However, their shifting loyalties will be offset by Representatives Paul Gosar (AZ), Marlin Stutzman (IN), and Steve King (IA) who supported Boehner in 2013, but are expected not to in 2015.

Seven of the potential votes against Boehner could be cast by House freshman, including Dave Brat (R-VA) the Republican who defeated House Majority leader Eric Cantor in a primary election in 2014. Gary Palmer (R-AL) pledged to vote against Boehner for Speaker while campaigning in Alabama. Although he now says he regrets that pledge because it might cost him the committee assignments he wants, he intends to honor his pledge.

Freshmen GOP lawmakers Glenn Grothman (WI), Jody Hice (GA), Barry Loudermilk (GA), John Ratliffe (TX), and Mark Walker (NC) are considered wildcards who may or may not end up backing Boehner. Along with Gohmert and Yoho, Republican veterans in Cogress who voted against Boehner in 2013, and are expected to vote against him again include Walter “freedom fries” Jones (NC), Thomas Massie (KY), and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK). Iconoclasts Justin Amash (MI) and Steven Pearce (NM) have not signaled what they intend to do, but both of them opposed Boehner in 2013.

The oust Boehner caucus in the GOP appears on the surface too feeble to mount a serious challenger to the speaker. The list of Republican malcontents may be large enough to deliver a headache to the Speaker of the House. Perhaps, the group of GOP outcasts is large enough to stir up a little drama, as they did in 2013. However, a survey of the list of Boehner’s “haters” doesn’t seem to have enough names on it to put the Speaker’s job in real jeopardy. Tomorrow we will find out if more Republicans will express their distaste for Boehner on a public roll call vote. Sean Hannity and Mark Levin will probably be sorely disappointed, as the vast majority of GOP House members will probably dutifully fall in line to back another term for Speaker John Boehner.


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