This morning in the Longworth Office Building the House GOP conference is meeting to elect leaders (the Dems met yesterday and – surprise, surprise – picked Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn and Larson to replace Rahm). Incumbent Minority Leader John Boehner agreed to debate his sole challenger California’s Dan Lungren, but most observers see Boehner as pretty safe since Whip Roy Blunt fell on his sword, allowing the ambitious Eric Cantor to move up.
Many conservatives urged the conference to make a bold change of leadership given the 50 seats that have been lost in the lost two cycles. Boehner, though, is savvy and in the last two years has formed an interesting partnership with Mike Pence, moving the quasi-moderate who drafted No Child Left Behind and pensions legislation with Teddy Kennedy to the right. As the Brookings’ Tom Mann told me: “The House Republican party is sharply tilted to the right. Boehner is holding on by responding to that reality. I suspect he will be a caretaker of a party whose political fortunes will get worse before they get better.”