Rumblings of a Tea Party coup against Speaker Boehner seemed to be unfounded as he sailed to re-election. But now Roll Call is reporting that the plot was very much real and robust enough to force a second ballot:
A concerted effort to unseat Speaker John A. Boehner was under way the day of his re-election to the position, but participants called it off 30 minutes before the House floor vote, CQ Roll Call has learned.
A group of disaffected conservatives had agreed to vote against the Ohio lawmaker if they could get at least 25 members to join the effort. But one member, whose identity could not be verified, rescinded his or her participation the morning of the vote, leaving the group one person short of its self-imposed 25-member threshold. Only 17 votes against Boehner were required to force a second ballot, but the group wanted to have insurance.
And for those who enjoy the palace intrigue, there were plots within plots.
The called-off plot suggests Boehner’s opponents were more organized than previously thought, however loosely. Notably, the attempt was plotted independently from, and without the knowledge of, a public effort led by a young conservative activist and former GOP Rep. Jeff Landry, which created buzz about Boehner’s possible ouster in conservative media. Landry lost re-election to Boehner ally Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., in a member-vs.-member contest brought about by redistricting.
Breitbart.com covered the Landry effort extensively, and one Republican member who participated in the larger coup attempt said Breitbart’s coverage of the smaller push actually helped keep their effort hidden because it suggested to Boehner and his allies that talk of a coup wasn’t serious. Members of the larger coup plot deliberately excluded top aides from deliberations to enhance secrecy and to protect them from recrimination.
So one congressperson getting cold feet the morning of the Speaker vote is all that prevented the forcing of a second ballot. If a second ballot was needed the field was wide open as many members of the Republican Caucus would likely have concluded that Boehner’s failure to win on the first ballot meant that he did not have the confidence of the party and new leadership was prudent. Might Eric Cantor have thrown his name in for Speaker?
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