Report: GOP operatives, former Boehner aides expect him to retire after midterms next year
posted at 7:21 pm on September 4, 2013 by Allahpundit
Nothing concrete, just speculation, but speculation from people who know Boehner well.
Before you pop the champagne, ask yourself: How much of an improvement would Speaker Cantor be?
“He has to say that [he’s staying]. He can’t not say that. The minute you say [you’re leaving], you’re done,” said one former GOP leadership aide who is part of Boehner’s circle. “Everybody around him thinks this is his last term.”
Despite the effort by Boehner to tamp down speculation that he will depart the House after the 2014 midterms, multiple cooks in Boehner’s kitchen cabinet think the Republican is still strongly considering making his exit just over a year from now.
“I’d be surprised if he did [stay],” said one former senior aide to Boehner, who, like many consulted for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their relationships. (HuffPost spoke to four top former Boehner aides, two current aides, five former leadership aides close to Boehner’s inner circle, and a GOP operative on familiar terms with his circle.)…
“It’s probably not up to him,” said one GOP operative. “The natural assumption is that he leaves. It’s the overwhelming, working assumption as people are making strategy going into 2015 and 2016.”
Why the suspicion that he’ll quit? Simple: He barely got 218 votes in the last Speaker election, and with excruciating votes upcoming on Syria, immigration, and this fall’s budget/debt ceiling clusterfark, odds are fair that he’ll end up alienating enough tea partiers that it’ll be impossible for him to win re-election among the caucus. He’ll take stock next year and, if the votes aren’t there, he’ll quietly prepare to leave rather than subject himself to a humiliating defeat in January 2015. If the votes are there, one former aide says, he might stick around through 2016 in order to try to nail down a grand bargain on entitlement reform with lame-duck Obama. But what are the odds of that?
So there’s the good news for Boehner-haters — he may well be done next year, to be replaced by Cantor or Jeb Hensarling or Jim Jordan (or Paul Ryan?). The bad news is that the sooner Boehner decides to pull the plug, the less reason he has not to abandon the Hastert Rule. Right now that’s the only thing that’s stopping the Schumer/Rubio amnesty bill from passing the House with overwhelming Democratic support. If Boehner decides he no longer wants to be Speaker, he could decide to bring the bill to the floor, secure a major legislative “achievement” when it passes, and then ride off into the sunset as the media tosses bouquets at him for his conservative-thwarting “reasonableness” and “statesmanship.” In that case, the fact that the House is taking its time to vote on immigration is actually a bad thing because you’d want to dispense with reform before all the budget stuff starts. Once Boehner deals with all that — and especially if he reaches some sort of major compromise with Obama — there’ll be less reason for him to stick to the conservative line. Better to get immigration done now, even if that means killing reform, while he still cares about being Speaker and then tackle budgetary matters.