The Washington Examiner’s David Drucker, among the sharpest of Capitol Hill reporters, joined me Tuesday to discuss the maneuvering to succeed Speaker John Boehner, which I wrote about yesterday here.
The succession story within the House GOP is complicated and contains many parts, including the need to raise the visibility of the talented and media-friendly Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State. With candidates on the Senate side including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Terri Lynn Land of Michigan, Joni Ernst in Iowa and Dr. Monica Wehby in Oregon, the GOP has great candidates to take on the “war against women” rhetoric that is as inevitable as it is transparently an attempt to keep eyes off of the massive Obamacare fails.
By adding McMorris Rodgers to the big three the House GOP solves part of its branding problem for a long time, but of course the current Whip Kevin McCarthy is much liked by first and second-termers even though the past two years have been marked by many train wrecks within the Caucus. A new “big three” with two new faces would help re-energize the GOP as it gears up to face President Obama in what will likely be his increasingly reckless last two years as he goes looking for a legacy in a unilateral fashion, extending and even amping up his already historic disregard for the limits on his powers.
If Speaker Boehnr stepped aside in August, the fall campaign would be energized by the prospect of new leadership though Drucker points out that John Boehner is a fund-raising machine even if he refuses to try and communicate the party’s agenda going forward. It wouldn’t be impossible for the new slate just to emerge one day, Cantor-Hensrling-McMorris Rogers being introduced by John Boehner, and for the already strong wind at the GOP’s back to pick up even more power.
But Texas’ Hensarling is, as my audience is finding out, widely respected, admired and liked, and deeply conservative. A GOP House Caucus strained by two years of clashes with the president, a shutdown, a debt hike without reform, and a defense budget they know to be cutting bone and then more bone, may well want to start with a brand new face for the new top job.
Whichever way the succession race roll,s however, the Ex-Im Bank is not a great vehicle for an early test of strength, given its connection to national defense and the promotion of the industrial base. The House Defense hawks may not be particularly vocal but they are still there and still likely to view every vote through the prism of the growing defense crisis. Hensarling’s fiscal credentials are unassailable. No need for him to push the defense-minded members away with an ill-conceived attempt to kill off Ex-Im.
The Daily Caller’s Christopher Bedford has a great background piece from last week here. Now that the succession contest is out in the semi-open, look for more attention and more leaks to fuel the conversation, especially as the long months between now and November have almost nothing moving on the substantive side of either the House or the Senate. In such a season, House of Cards-like dramas soak up time and do no damage to the central focus on the woes of Obamacare and the cover-ups of the IRS wrongdoing.