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Conservative Foes Pledge to Oppose Boehner for Speaker Slot

Two outspoken conservative members say they are actively running for his job.
Image: Boehner smiles during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) smiles during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington December 11, 2014. Boehner on Thursday said he expects the $1.1 trillion government funding bill to pass the House of Representatives later in the day. JONATHAN ERNST / Reuters

John Boehner is slated for his official re-election as the Speaker of the House on Tuesday, but – like he did last Congress – he’ll have to face defections from within his own party along the way.

A bloc of conservatives who view Boehner as too moderate and conciliatory are planning to vote against him, and two outspoken members say they are actively running for his job.

Over the weekend, Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho of Florida announced their bids for Speaker. But both men are long shots to garner enough votes to upset Boehner, who was already designated “Speaker-elect” by his conference in November.

“At this point, the Speaker’s election is not about a particular candidate,” Gohmert said in a press release announcing his run. “It is about whether we keep the status quo or make the change the country demands. I am putting forward my name for consideration as Speaker and hope that with a new Speaker, be that me or someone else, we can fight for the ideals and principles that the voters wanted when they elected us in November.”

In 2013, nine conservatives – including Gohmert and Yoho – opposed Boehner’s re-election as Speaker. A handful of others voted “present” or declined to vote.

Boehner is likely to face a similar revolt on Tuesday.

In addition to his old foes, at least one new member of Congress – Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia, who defeated top Boehner lieutenant Eric Cantor in a primary last summer -- has said he’ll back another candidate.

Still, the rebellion appears unlikely to amount to more than embarrassment for Boehner. Because the Speaker must be elected by a majority of ALL votes cast for candidates, twenty-nine Republicans would have to oppose him to force a second ballot – assuming that all 434 voting members of the chamber vote.

Since 1913, the Speaker has been elected without a majority of the whole House (but with the majority of those voting) only four times.

In 1917 (65th Congress), "Champ" Clark (D-MO) was elected with 217 votes; in 1923 (68th Congress), Frederick Gillett (R-MA) was elected with 215 votes; in 1943 (78th Congress), Sam Rayburn (D-TX) was elected with 217 votes; and in 1997 (105th Congress), Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was elected with 216 votes.

The last time a second ballot was forced was 1923.