The Campaign Spot

How Did the Anti-Boehner Forces Attempt to Persuade the GOP Caucus?

The conventional wisdom is solidifying:

ABC News: Why John Boehner Will Win Reelection as House Speaker Today

Politico: Boehner Likely to Survive Another Squeaker for Speaker.

The Hill: “Conservative firebrand Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) have launched long-shot alternative candidacies for Speaker that aren’t expected to result in victory or even a second ballot.”

The boast that Boehner will face “the biggest Speaker revolt since 1923” is still not certain; at this hour, 13 House Republicans have indicated they will vote for someone besides the current speaker. As the Post notes, “19 Democrats cast symbolic votes against outgoing speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had already lost her post by virtue of losing the House majority in the 2010 election.”

As noted in today’s Jolt, any House Republican who’s got a decent working relationship with Boehner (and probably spent years developing it) isn’t going to want to toss that relationship away, particularly without knowing who would replace him as speaker. And if you’re John Boehner, staying on good terms with a majority of your caucus — not everybody, but 218 or so of them — is job one.

The outlook for Boehner would be a lot cloudier if there were an alternative who was well-liked by about 218 of his colleagues and who seemed genuinely interested in the job. This person would have to enjoy the trust and faith of the conservatives, while also reassuring less-conservative members that his agenda for floor votes wouldn’t be endangering them. He would have to have a good feel for the political instincts and worldviews of just about every member, and know their passions and idiosyncrasies. And on just about every issue under the sun, he would have to know exactly what kind of a deal a majority of his members could live with, and what they couldn’t.

It’s a tall order. And if Boehner wins today, it may very well be that for all his flaws, a majority of his colleagues aren’t yet convinced that any other member can handle that task any better than Boehner can right now.

If you want to persuade a member to do something that involves risk — and voting against the current speaker involves a lot of risk — you have to lay out how taking the risk serves that member’s self-interest. (Read Alinsky.)

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