House Speaker John Boehner might think he's getting too old, but his friends are still determined to help him keep his job. Publicly, Boehner's team won't admit that his speakership is in jeopardy — spokesman Michael Steel told Politico Boehner "hopes and expects" he will be the choice after midterms — but privately, Republican friends of Boehner are organizing to bully the Tea Party into voting for him.
Politico's Jake Sherman reports,
A group of his closest allies — including fellow Ohio Republicans like Pat Tiberi — are discussing tactics such as trying to change GOP Conference rules to punish members who do not support the party’s nominee during a floor vote. ... In a sign of force, some of Boehner’s friends are considering releasing a letter with the names of several dozen GOP lawmakers pledging to vote for no one else besides the speaker — making the election of a more conservative rival logistically impossible.
Friends like Tiberi will have to go up against some of the more vocal Tea Party members in the House, including Rep. Ted Yoho, who told Sherman, "I think [Boehner's] a great guy as an individual. I’d rather see a little more stronger, clear, concise leadership, with a direction." He declined to say who he would have as speaker.
According to Deirdre Walsh at CNN, the short list of Boehner alternatives starts with Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who chairs the financial services committee. Right now, Hensarling says he's "flattered" by the buzz, but "it's not something I've aspired to. It's not something I'm thinking about." After Hensarling, there's Rep. Jim Jordan from Boehner's home state of Ohio, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, and Georgia Rep. Tom Price. Hensarling and Price have both served in Boehner's leadership team.
It's too soon to say whether any of these men pose a real threat, as Boehner's opposition hasn't rallied around any one candidate. Boehner enemy Rep. Walter Jones warns that the opposition has to get organized by "June or July" to defeat the speaker in January. Luckily for Boehner, his friends are already one step ahead.