A Boehner-less House isn’t just good for conservatives, it’s good for the Republican Party

There have been several stories in recent months about House conservatives discontent with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), which, some have speculated, means that his job could be in jeopardy when the new Congress convenes in January. But there’s also suspicion that he may not stick around next year.

Yeah, Boehner is running for reelection, recently dispatching two primary challengers, but he hasn’t done much to put an end to the guessing game. He bought a condo in South Florida earlier this year and one of his top aides bolted for a job with the health insurance lobby. Boehner recently, when asked, said he couldn’t guarantee that he’d finish another term as Speaker.

There’s also Boehner’s attitude toward members of his own conference. He openly derided House conservatives last month over their attitudes on immigration reform. He, of course, denied that he was mocking his conservative colleagues, though he did meet with them behind closed doors to control the damage he’d done.

No one is sure what Boehner is going to do, but he does seem poised for an exit, which could open the door for conservatives in leadership races, including the Speaker’s gavel. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), for example, has been mentioned in recent weeks as a potential successor, though he said last week that it’s “not something [he’s] thinking about.”

But the speculation doesn’t end at Hensarling, who has emerged as one of the biggest critics of cronyism in the House. There are other names being floated, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA):

If Boehner decides to step down from the position, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is popular among conservatives, and most expect him to move up and take the speaker’s gavel. In that scenario conservatives could wage an effort to fill in top House GOP posts.

Multiple House Republicans — some who voted for Boehner in 2013 and some who didn’t — praised Hensarling as a solid conservative, but also told CNN there’s a short list of others who are viable candidates.
The names repeatedly raised include Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, who like Hensarling is a former chairman of the fiscally conservative Republican Study Committee; Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, who currently heads that group; and Georgia Rep. Tom Price, another former study group leader who also served in Boehner’s leadership team in the last Congress.

“The one consensus point is that we’d like to see more conservatives in future leadership posts,” Louisiana Republican John Fleming told CNN.

That “consensus point” is key. House conservatives want a seat at the table. They want to have a voice in leadership, which they see as out of touch with the large part of the Republican conference as well as the party’s base.

If Boehner does bolt, conservatives could play the role of kingmaker in exchange for a seat at the leadership table, though probably not one of the top spots. Still, that could go a long way toward ending the intraparty battles that have divided House Republicans.

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