Backing Dark Horse Boehner May Mean Big Payoff for a Few
After last week's House Republican leadership elections, the main winner was obvious: Rep. John A. Boehner (Ohio) was the new majority leader after a surprising come-from-behind victory over Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.), who will have to stay content in his current job as majority whip.
The top-of-the-ticket contest also produced some less public victories and defeats for rank-and-file members, however.
Among the House members who saw a big run-up in their political stock:
Rep. Pat Tiberi (Ohio) : Tiberi was described by one well-connected party strategist as the "worker bee" of the Boehner operation. A junior member of the GOP caucus, expect Tiberi to be rewarded with a plum post or two in the coming months.
Rep. Jim McCrery (La.) : McCrery took a major gamble by supporting Boehner, as backing the wrong horse probably would have cost him the Ways and Means Committee chairmanship when Rep. Bill Thomas (Calif.) is term-limited out of the post after this Congress. Boehner's victory strengthens McCrery's status as the front-runner for the powerful chairmanship come 2007, assuming the GOP keeps its majority this fall.
Rep. Tom Latham (Iowa) : Latham is Boehner's closest friend in the House and one of his three closest friends in Congress, along with Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.).
Rep. Pete Sessions (Tex.) : Like McCrery, Sessions staked his ambition to be the next chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee on his support for Boehner. Sessions is widely regarded as the favorite for the campaign job in the 2008 cycle.
Other Republicans were left to lick their wounds with Blunt.
Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (Fla.) : He gambled and lost. He had been, with McCrery, one of two front-runners for the Ways and Means gavel in 2007. There now seems little doubt who will get it if Republicans stay in control.
Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) : See Shaw. Cole, who is competing with Sessions and Pennsylvania Rep. Phil English to chair the NRCC, was a public Blunt supporter.
Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.) : After initially supporting Boehner, Gilchrest jumped to Blunt at the eleventh hour in exchange for a committee chairmanship. He may be waiting for a while.
Rep. Joe Barton (Tex.) : Barton was entrusted with delivering the massive Texas delegation to Blunt. Whether or not he did it (the vote was by secret ballot), his candidate came up short, and his allegiance to Blunt may well linger in Boehner's mind.