Tom Price not challenging Boehner for speaker

December 10, 2012

House leadership expressed concerned that Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) may mount a bid against House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the next Congress.

But Price's office told reporters Monday that the conservative lawmaker is not campaigning for Boehner's gavel.

“Congressman Price is not running for speaker," spokesman Ryan Murphy said in a statement. "He is focused on real solutions to get America back on track. Those solutions reside in fundamental principles that embrace individual opportunity and economic freedom.”

An actual upset was always unlikely. The New York Times reported recently that Boehner currently enjoys broad support from his caucus. Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.) signed on to Boehner's "fiscal cliff" proposal, so the speaker doesn't have to worry that the majority leader will cause him trouble. Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) backed the plan too, which gives Boehner some cover with conservatives. 

But a shakeup in which four House members lost their committee posts has created tension.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who lost his seat on the House Budget Committee, has suggested he might not vote for the speaker. Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, forced off the Budget and Agriculture committees, compared Boehner to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was forced out of leadership in 1998. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), who lost his seat on the House Financial Services Committee, was asked on MSNBC Monday morning if he would prefer Cantor to Boehner. He refused to respond, saying, "I’d actually like not to be chairman of janitorial supplies." 

Price, who may challenge Sen. Saxby Chambliss in the 2014 primary, himself lost a bid for conference chairman to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), disappointing many of his fellow conservatives.  

“If the speaker listens to the conference and agrees to not raise taxes, he’ll be successful,” the lawmaker told National Review of Boehner. “So far, I think the speaker is doing that,” he added. “But we’ve got to watch what happens.”

After Democrats' shellacking in the 2010 elections, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) faced a challenge from Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.) for the post of House minority leader. The centrist lawmaker got 43 votes to Pelosi's 150.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Ed O'Keefe | December 10, 2012