Thursday, November 09, 2006

GOP Leadership: Boehner Strong, Blunt Not

Roll Call covers the start of the House GOP's leadership positions in the minority. The suggestion is that I was partly wrong, and partly right. Roll Call (subscription required) perceives Boehner to be strong - as I expected- for the role of Minority Leader - which is somewhat surprising to me.

House GOP Races Begin
November 9, 2006
By Susan Davis and Ben Pershing, Roll Call Staff

...Even though Pence is on a family vacation, he was working the phones
Wednesday and held a conference call to gauge support among his allies in the
RSC, including GOP Reps. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), who is acting as campaign
manager, Paul Ryan (Wis.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Mike Ferguson (N.J.) and
Patrick McHenry (N.C.), among others.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (Texas) also edged closer to
declaring an official candidacy. “I am now actively considering the option of
seeking the post of Republican Leader,” Barton said a statement released
Wednesday afternoon. Barton held a conference call with Texas Members on

As for Blunt, he will face Rep. John Shadegg (Ariz.), and potentially
others, in the race for Whip.

I don't really see where Barton fits in this, except that he may undercut support for Boehner. Both are 'insiders,' (Barton's a committee chairman). Barton is slightly more conservative, but conservatism isn't Boehner's problem.

Boehner has a lot going for him. As I indicated, Members will realize that they need an 'organization' guy in leadership. Plus, Boehner is a legitimate reformer - crafter of the Contract With America, never sought an earmark, etc. And he can argue - with some credibility - that he wasn't in office long enough to make a difference.

Boehner has a more-established base of support within the Conference than
Pence or Barton, but House GOP aides and Members not aligned with Boehner or
Blunt have suggested that the current leadership may be underestimating the
desire for a change in leadership among the rank-and-file Members.

In particular, Blunt is seen as being the most vulnerable at this point
because he is the most “entrenched” member of the current leadership, according
to one House Republican Member closely aligned with the RSC.

“I think Boehner is strong and Blunt has problems,” the Member said,
adding that based on a number of conversations with colleagues throughout the
day Wednesday, Blunt is seen as in a weakened state.

“It is very possible that others get into the Whip race,” the Member
added, although no other candidates had announced. A Republican source said Rep.
Todd Tiahrt (Kan.) was considering entering the Whip race but had not made any
decision as of Wednesday.

I think Roll Call has it right: the appetite for change is great. Rank-and-file members don't want to continue with the same leaders who presided over the failure. And Blunt has to know that if Boehner is selected as Minority Leader, he's dead. That makes Shadegg the likely winner.

There are also other, lower-level leadership posts open. Deborah Pryce has vacated the Conference Chair spot, which she would have lost anyway. Blackburn, Putnam, and Kingston are seeking that. I think Kingston is great, but he better hope a woman is elected somewhere else in leadership, if he is to have a prayer.

Kay Granger is right now the only person in the race for Conference Vice-Chair, which Kingston is vacating. John Doolittle won't run for Conference Secretary, and apparently John Carter is the favorite there.

Update: Tim Chapman helpfully notes that Roy Blunt will be making his case for his leadership at Heritage today at 2:00 Eastern. Watch it live.

Update II: Republican Members of Congress might also remember Mr. Blunt's poorly-timed comments that Dennis Hastert mishandled the Foley mess. I recall some real anger among GOPers about the gratutious slam.

Back to the top.


Wilson said...

Did you see the speech? It was pretty darn good.

And let's face it, Blunt was right about how Hastert handled the Foley fiasco. And now Hastert is (rightfully) gone from leadership. I don't see how that's an issue.

The Editor at IP said...

Thanks for your comment; sorry I have to disagree.

Bush was right to accept Rumsfeld's resignation. However, the timing was off.

Blunt's comments amounted to gasoline on a fire. And what did they accomplish for him or anyone? It came across as politically unwise, self-serving, and sour grapes (after his loss against Boehner). I for one, don't admire those qualities in a potential Republican leader.