That move helped Boehner within his Republican conference, but it proved to be a political debacle for the national GOP brand, at least in the short term. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, often mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, accused Boehner of refusing to take his calls. Christie singled out Boehner for “the continued suffering of these innocent victims” of the storm.
Boehner faced the largest number of opposition votes from within his party in recent decades. His 220-vote tally is the lowest for any speaker or speaker-elect since January 1999, when J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was elected to his first term with 220 votes.
But Republicans held just 222 seats at the start of that Congress. Hastert had no votes of opposition, as he did not vote for himself and another Republican was not on hand for the tally.
In 1997, Gingrich (R-Ga.) received 216 votes, with nine votes of opposition from Republicans. Every other speaker since the Eisenhower administration has won his or her speaker’s election with more than 225 votes.
On Thursday, three dissenting Republicans voted for Cantor, who is considered more staunchly conservative, but the majority leader loudly shouted “John Boehner” when his name was sounded during the roughly hour-long roll call.
“There’s a lot of discontent out there,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a member of the 2010 class who often jousts with the leaders. “Things have got to change, or we’re in a lot of trouble as a Republican caucus and as a nation.”
Having voted for another member of the 2010 class, Amash said he was not surprised by the outcome. He and other conservatives had discussed their picks ahead of time, so he knew Boehner was likely to win.
Even some Republicans who supported Boehner did so not because they thought he was successful at the job, but because they weren’t sure that anyone could do a better job of managing their unwieldy caucus.
“A lot of people back home don’t realize what a horrible hand the speaker’s been dealt on some of these things,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold (Tex.). “Obviously, I don’t agree with some of the things he’s done. But the guy’s working hard and doing the best he can with the resources he has.”
Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.