From this morning’s House GOP Leadership Elections:
Many observers were surprised at just how lopsided the margins were. Member after member said that Boehner was re-elected because he really hadn’t had a chance “to prove his mettle,” as Commerce Committee chair Joe Barton put it. Only elected to his post in February, Boehner couldn’t be held responsible for the losses last week, these members argued.
Roy Blunt’s convincing victory was a bit more surprising to members because he was part of the “old guard” DeLay-era. Rep. David Hobson, a veteran Ohio appropriator, said he thought the Blunt-Shadegg race “would be closer,” but said Blunt “worked it very hard.” Moreover, Hobson said, the Whip post is “not a policy position,” but is about “counting votes…a mechanical deal.”
Other members took similarly pragmatic views in backing the incumbent team. For Rep. Jim Gerlach, a moderate Pennsylvanian who’s survived two close re-election contests in a row, Blunt (and Boehner) were just known quantities. “The [House GOP] Conference is very comfortable with these members,” he said.
Not all were pleased at the re-election of the two top House Republicans. Rep. Jeff Flake, a frequent Leadership critic who draws cameras for his candor, observed that Republicans “were slow earlier this year to recognize the problem and now we’re slow to recognize how we get out.” Flake, an Arizonan who backed Pence and Shadegg, said the 29-seat loss hasn’t “sunk in yet” for many in his party. Barton, who mounted his own race for Minority Leader until dropping out and backing Boehner, agreed that many were “still in denial and shellshock.”
Appearing after the all the voting wrapped up, Boehner and his new leadership team seemed anything but shell-shocked. Ebullient as ever, Boehner promised three different times in his brief remarks that the House GOP would “earn” its way back. Exactly how wasn’t said because more pressing matters were at hand. Prompted by a FOX News producer, Boehner fessed up that today was his birthday and led his fellow Republicans in a brief birthday ditty.