Robert Costa’s piece on a possible challenge to John Boehner’s speakership is loaded with kremlinology, starting with a fact that I’ve independently confirmed: Tom Price’s November bid for a leadership post was only narrowly defeated. There are at least a hundred or Republicans who wanted to see Tom Price get a job over John Boehner’s pick, the highly tipped yet highly boring Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
I think the most important part of the story concerns the timing.
A Price run for a speakership would likely be fueled by outside conservative groups, but even Price confidants admit that it would be extremely difficult. As his friends explain, Price would consider a run only if there is a groundswell against Boehner later this month.
Typically (and these things aren’t very typical), a bid to replace a speaker designate starts early, and starts with fears about the speaker’s inability to lead the party to future wins. If Costa is right, a Price challenges depends entirely on conservative anger toward a fiscal cliff bargain. Boehner can engender that anger with either 1) a bad deal or 2) an early deal, which looks bad, because more could have been negotiated with more time.
So far, the “oust Boehner” campaign has been limited to American Majority and some Hill Republicans. Price had Paul Ryan’s backing for that leadership job; he would presumably lack that backing if he challenged Boehner. If this gets any momentum, though, it’s another factor pushing a deal into 2013, when a confused scramble benefits the White House.