Washington Secrets

John Boehner appears safe --- for now

By |
Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,John Boehner

The absence of a House conservative publicly campaigning to challenge House Speaker John Boehner in Thursday's leadership elections has even his harshest critics, still angered with the "fiscal cliff" deal, expecting the Ohio Republican to keep his post, according to multiple sources.

"If there's a coup in the works, no one has seen fit to tell me about it," said a key conservative leadership aide.

The split vote for the fiscal cliff deal, however, has drawn fire from outside critics and even led to a poll on the Drudge Report showing opposition to Boehner beating support, 85 percent to 15 percent. That led the one outside group pushing to fire Boehner, American Majority Action, to lower their forecast of a coup from a one in seven chance to one in five.

Spokesman Ron Meyer told Secrets that the Drudge poll has sparked concern among some GOP members that backing Boehner could make them look too "establishment," and prompt a conservative primary challenge in next year's elections. "Drudge represents a lot of their constituents," said Meyer.

Still, Meyer said the anti-Boehner effort "needs a leader" for it to take off.

A top Republican House aide, meanwhile, said there is an effort to challenge Boehner, but that chances of success is just "25 percent." It would likely require a vote first for a secret ballot.

Critics have looked to Majority Leader Eric Cantor to take on Boehner, reading meaning into his vote against Boehner and the fiscal cliff deal this week. But his aides dismissed the rumors, as they have for two years, adding that Cantor supports Boehner.

Longtime former House leadership aide Ron Bonjean said he hasn't heard of any coup talk. "Boehner is likely going to be speaker again because House Republicans appreciate his leadership style and many understand just how hard their negotiating position was during the fiscal cliff standoff with Obama as president."

And, said a House advisor, Boehner's crude slap at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who called the speaker a "dictator," helped boost his credentials among conservatives looking for a fight with the Democratically-controlled chamber. Politico reported that Boehner told Reid, "Go f--- yourself."

Others noted that past failed coup attempts have hurt House careers. "If you are going to try and take out the speaker, then you better win or else your political future on Capitol Hill will be filled with miserable committee assignments and fundraising coffers that will quickly run dry," said a key strategist.

View article comments Leave a comment