Much is being made about the 25 Republicans who didn’t support House Speaker John Boehner’s re-election yesterday; but how many will actually suffer any recriminations from their action? So far, representatives Daniel Webster (R-FL-10) and Rich Nugent (R-FL-11) have both been removed from the Rules Committee – Webster ran for Speaker and Nugent voted for him – but will other similar moves follow?
It is doubtful. Many of the veteran members who opposed the Speaker have been outspoken in the past about the House inner workings and really don’t have particularly plum committee or conference positions from which to be stripped. Therefore, replacing the two Floridians on the Rules Committee could be the extent of the leadership backlash.
A surprising vote against Boehner came from Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA-2), however, generally viewed as a more centrist member. He represents a marginal Tidewater district, and his seat on the Armed Services Committee is highly relevant and important to his constituency. Plus, with the Virginia congressional map in the courts and already ruled unconstitutional, a redraw will soon commence, and the Rigell district will likely see major boundary revisions – changes not projected to be in the congressman’s favor. So Rigell could be in position to soon need help from a great many sources, and his vote against Boehner may be an action he will regret.
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL-8) has a seat on the Financial Services Committee, which, as we know, is a significant position. But, his vote for neighboring congressman Webster will likely be chalked up to Florida state politics and a personal relationship rather than a personal slap at Speaker Boehner … though the same rationale did not help Nugent.
Finally, three freshmen – representatives Gary Palmer (R-AL-6), Brian Babin (R-TX-36) and Dave Brat (R-VA-7) – whose first official act as members of the House was to vote against their party leader, may face a more uncertain future. But they will likely be regarded as heroes among the conservative base that elected them, which is probably more important at this stage of their careers, considering their particular constituencies, than culling favor with the leadership.
Despite racking up an impressive 63-34 percent win in November against a Democratic opponent who spent $6.3 million in a district that President Obama carried by six and eight points in 2012 and 2008, respectively, three-term Rep. Chris Gibson (R) surprisingly announced on the day of House commencement that he will not be a candidate for re-election in 2016. His retirement decision also may be what drove him to vote for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) for Speaker as opposed to incumbent John Boehner.
The 19th District is an expansive region in New York state, stretching between Poughkeepsie and Albany on the Connecticut and Massachusetts borders, before crossing the Catskill Mountains, and then reaching as far as Otsego County to the west. The district is sure to draw strong candidates from both parties, and featuring a presidential election year turnout model, this promises to be one of the top 2016 Democratic conversion opportunities in the country.
Gibson gave no specific reason for leaving the House, nor is it clear why he announced his intentions so early. The congressman has been the subject of speculation that he might seek a statewide office in 2018, but one would think that keeping his position in the House would help him from a funding basis, if little else, should he embark upon such a venture.
Gibson becomes the fourth member to announce that he will not return in the next Congress and third New Yorker to do so. Former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) has resigned after pleading guilty to tax evasion, while representatives Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8) have made public statements saying that they will not seek another re-election.