On the day that House Speaker John Boehner announced he was resigning, the party’s right wing wasted no time in identifying their next target. Republican Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-5) texted Utah Senator Mike Lee a message that said:
Next guy in the crosshairs is probably gonna be McConnell.
Although dislodging McConnell from his leadership position would be a difficult undertaking, Salmon minced no words when defending the idea of removing the Senate Majority Leader. Defending his remarks, Salmon stated:
Mitch McConnell is infinitely worse as a leader than Boehner. He surrenders at the sight of battle every time.
Other House conservatives echoed Salmon’s sentiment. GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney (SC-5) hinted that conservatives now need to step up pressure on McConnell and he suggested that Boehner’s resignation should serve “as an absolute warning sign to McConnell”.
Getting McConnell to step down after over three decades in the Senate is probably a right-wing pipe dream. However, there is no question that the anti-compromise, “shut down the government if we don’t get our way” wing of the Republican Party is earnest in their desire to oust McConnell.
After waging a successful political coup to get House Speaker John Boehner to fall on his sword, the hardliners would like nothing more than to help write Mitch McConnell’s political obituary as well. Reporters often liken the GOP infighting to a civil war within the party. While the war analogy might be a tad overstated, the terminology being used by the congressional combatants is indicative of warfare.
For example, Salmon didn’t text something simple like ”we should persuade McConnell to quit”, he texted that McConnell should be put in the crosshairs next. Clearly Salmon’s suggestion is a metaphor, and not a call for assassination, but the use of the metaphor itself underscores the level of antipathy that exists between the GOP’s establishment and the far right House extremists.
The extremists in the Republican Party are emboldened by Boehner’s departure. They are not about to give up their fight to purge the party of “sell outs” who compromise too willingly. They are aiming high, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be the next person they will aim to remove.
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.