This morning I woke up ready to set the over/under at 17 votes against Boehner, but The Blaze is convinced that 20 is quite possible.
Conservatives need 29 to block him, by the way.
The most interesting name there is Huelskamp, a longtime Boehner nemesis who was stripped of his committee seats two years ago for not being a “team player,” voted against Boehner in the last Speaker election in January 2013, but then had a change of heart a few months ago after a private chat with him. “I like what I’m seeing,” he told Roll Call in mid-November, insisting that not only would he vote for Boehner as leader in the conference meeting, he’d vote for him in today’s House election for Speaker as well. Fast-forward two months and here we are:
I am not voting for #Boehner. Honest. Principled. Conservative. Leadership is what I want.
— Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D. (@CongHuelskamp) January 6, 2015
What happened between November and now? Did the “cromnibus” sour Huelskamp on Boehner anew? Did the big talk-radio push this week against reelecting Boehner as Speaker convince Huelskamp to get right with his base on a high-profile vote? Or does he have reason to believe that the anti-Boehner bloc is picking up support within the caucus right before the big vote? I’m going to bump the over/under up to 19.
Per WaPo, no major party’s nominee for Speaker has lost as many as 20 votes in more than 90 years. If conservatives hit that target, their consolation prize in failing to oust Boehner will be having the media embarrass him for the rest of the day with that factoid. The votes are there, in theory: Thomas Massie, who’s voting no, thinks there are as many as 40 House Republicans who oppose Boehner in principle although no one expects anywhere near that number to vote their conscience. The Hill’s whip list as I write this has 15 confirmed no’s, another six who are possible no’s given their public criticism of Boehner, and eight wild cards (e.g., Raul Labrador and Mick Mulvaney, both of whom abstained rather than vote for Boehner last time but are, for the moment, backing him today). Another potential no is Rep. Dan Webster, whom Steve King thinks is set to run for Speaker himself alongside Louie Gohmert and Ted Yoho. Add ’em all up and you get 30 votes, one more than the minimum needed to block Boehner. Nearly all would have to flip to give conservatives a chance.
One man who won’t be flipping is Rep. Morgan Griffith:
“[N]o candidate other than John Boehner stepped forward for the nomination at the Republican Conference meeting of November 13, 2014. Had a viable candidate sought the nomination at that meeting, I would have given serious consideration to supporting them due to my frustrations with the leadership style of John Boehner.”
“Further, no member nominated anyone else to serve as Speaker at that Republican Conference meeting. That meeting and its purpose was fully known well in advance, and it was attended by the vast majority of the members of the 114th Congress.”
“Recently, one on Friday and one on Sunday, other Republican members stated they would place their names for consideration as Speaker of the House. That would be less than 5 days of planning and consideration for one candidate, and less than 3 for the other before the 114th Congress starts tomorrow.”
“As of 5:00pm on January 5, neither candidate opposing Boehner has requested my vote, indicating they have no plan to campaign, win, or lead. To underscore the point, neither candidate has sent me a plan for leading this nation, nor have they sent me a plan for leading this body, their leadership team, or their leadership style.”
At least Boehner has a plan, says Griffith. (Does he?) Ousting him in favor of an eleventh-hour protest candidate like Gohmert or Yoho who lacks any plan himself would mean chaos for the caucus, with Obama the ultimate beneficiary. Fair point: If replacing Boehner is so crucial, why did intensive public outreach to build grassroots support for it begin only within the last few weeks? Gohmert, Yoho, or some more plausible conservative could have jumped in the day after the midterms and spent the last two months campaigning in conservative media.
Ceremonies in the House and Senate are set to begin around noon ET, with the Speaker election to follow within the hour. It should be carried live on your cable news network of choice. Stand by for updates. While we wait, a thought from Mulvaney: “I fought this battle two years ago… I was the only (South Carolina) member not to vote for Boehner. How did that work out? It marginalized conservatives and simply empowered the establishment.”
Just heard on @glennbeck that Mia Love is voting for Boehner
— donna ahart (@dahart66) January 6, 2015
Update: If you took the over on 19 votes, you won! There were 25 defectors on the Speaker, a number tantalizingly close to the 29 they needed. But then, that makes sense:
Odd coincidence that enough people voted against Boehner to firm up their conservative credentials, not enough to actually unseat him. Hmm.
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) January 6, 2015
The number will embarrass Boehner. But he won’t cry too hard:
…But that @SpeakerBoehner was re-elected despite high defections shows he has more room to maneuver in 114th Congress cuz of GOP pickups…
— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) January 6, 2015
Update: Still waiting for a list of the GOP defectors, but here’s where the votes went:
GOP Non-Boehner Vote Tally:
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) January 6, 2015
Update: WaPo has the list of the 25 Republicans who voted for someone other than Boehner.