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Friday, February 21, 2014

Quiet campaigning for House GOP leadership underway -- By David Drucker, The Washington Examiner


http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/528e924becad046e366392b1/john-boehner-has-officially-signed-up-for-insurance-through-obamacare.jpgHouse Republicans have begun jockeying for leadership positions in the next Congress, anticipating the possibility that Speaker John Boehner could step down after the November elections.

The Ohio Republican maintains that he has no plans to relinquish the gavel. Indeed, some Republicans close to Boehner now believe he is leaning toward running for a third term as speaker after previously predicting that 2014 would be his final year on the job. Boehner's speakership has strengthened in the aftermath of October's government shutdown, with his often-rebellious conference uniting behind him following three years of bucking his leadership at nearly every turn.

But there remains considerable speculation that Boehner will retire, and members interested in moving up are quietly exploring their options and laying the foundation for a leadership bid. They include members of Boehner’s team who are eyeing promotions and rank-and-file Republicans looking to win their first elected position in conference leadership. Overt campaigning, considered unseemly and counterproductive at this early stage, could accelerate over the summer.

“There is definitely a lot of shadow campaigning going on,” said a Republican lobbyist with relationships on Capitol Hill. “They all want to be ready.”

The politics of running for a congressional leadership post differ from campaigns for public office. In a leadership election, members are the constituency, and winning is primarily about relationships, favors and fundraising. In other words, members with friends, who have helped boost colleagues’ legislation and campaign coffers, tend to have an edge. That a member might enjoy the support of party activists or influential outside groups usually matters much less.

That is one reason why Boehner's team has been remarkably stable despite the challenges it has faced periodically in rounding up the 218 votes required to pass legislation. Members of the House Republican conference who are loyal to the Tea Party have been disenchanted with Boehner's strategy occasionally, but none has accumulated the breadth of support required to oust him or one of his lieutenants.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is probably the only member capable of uniting Establishment and Tea Party Republicans and ousting Boehner or another senior leader. But Ryan isn't interested, both because he is closely aligned with Boehner, as well as Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, and because he doesn't want their jobs. Ryan is poised to become Ways and Means Committee chairman next year, fulfilling a career ambition.

“The only person who can tell Boehner it’s time to go is Cantor,” said a former House Republican leadership aide. “Ryan isn’t going to do it.”

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