House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA7) has been beaten in the Virginia GOP primary by a low budget, Tea Party, small college professor. At a time when the Tea Party is supposed to be on the wane, the second most powerful person in the House of Representatives has been kicked out of office. And, as politics go, it wasn’t close with challenger Dave Brat winning 56% to 44%. The consequences of this upset goes beyond just the defeat of a 12-term congressman and party “star,” it could well impact the whole of the House of Representatives.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8) has been on thin ice with the Republican membership. His concessions to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have caused friction in the conservative lower house, a disaffection brought to fruition by the defeat of his Number Two. The result of Cantor’s ouster is a sign Boehner can’t ignore and his decision tree has now sprouted a new branch.
The Speaker’s choices start with, try to retain the position or not?
One Congressman told me that he believes Boehner will wait to see what happens with the Senate to determine his move. If the GOP takes the Senate in the Fall, this Representative said, Boehner will most likely try to stay on to take advantage of a Republican dominance in Congress. If not, he may not want to keep butting heads with Reid and Obama.
If Boehner wants to keep the Speaker’s chair, he is going to have to make changes. South Carolina Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC3) calls Cantor’s loss a “new leadership dynamics.” His colleague and fellow delegation member Mick Mulvaney (R-SC5) told me it’s a “new life” for Boehner and gives him “a chance to move to the right.”
That new life will start with working to get the Republican caucus to select a more conservative member to replace Cantor. When I asked Rep. Duncan if Boehner would do that to shore up his right flank, he said “I think you’ll hear (Trey) Gowdy’s name mentioned nationwide for Majority Leader.”
Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC4) has gained much attention for his pit bull approach to the Benghazi scandal. His committee statements and questions – on a variety of topics – are popular on YouTube for their direct, reasoned and kick-ass hammering for the truth from whomever is testifying. For that reason, the Fox News icon was chosen – by Speaker Boehner – to lead the House investigation of the Benghazi debacle.
Gowdy in a power position is a delicious thought to conservatives be they moderately so or way over on the far right. Democrats would hate – and I mean HATE – having to deal with Trey Gowdy in a leadership role.
But, would he take it? Mick Mulvaney told me “No. It would never happen. Trey would never do it.”
I was hesitant to ask Gowdy himself because he ain’t talking.
Gowdy has taken himself off the proverbial grid since being tasked with the Benghazi chairmanship. True to his legal self, he does not want the investigation to be about him and he doesn’t want to hold it in the press or on Fox News or blog sites. Knowing of his self-imposed silence, I did the honorable thing and asked him anyway.
“Would you be interested in Majority Leader if asked? Surely your name will come up.”
The answer was an emphatic “No.”
We all know that politicians, even the honest ones, will say they aren’t interested in a particular job, but reconsider once the opportunity actually comes to them. But Trey Gowdy – like Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan – isn’t just any honest politician. He’s pretty damned special and if he says it’s an emphatic “no,” then no it is.
Too bad. Not only do House Democrats need a kick in the ass, so does John Boehner.
And Trey Gowdy wears steel-toed boots.