Talkers Flex Muscle Within GOP

Conservative talk show hosts and Tea Party groups are vowing to do something they’ve never done before: Select the next Speaker of the House.

That’s bad news for Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and other establishment Republicans who are eyeing the top perch in the lower chamber. 

Emboldened by Rep. Eric Cantor’s (Va.) loss in his GOP primary, Tea Party leaders are looking to get one of their own either to replace Boehner or to defeat him after the 2014 elections.

Leadership races have long been popularity contests instead of ideological purity tests. That is changing rapidly.

Leadership elections, with the exception of Speaker, are done via secret ballot.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said leadership contests come down to a variety of factors: “Loyalty is measured by a different yardstick in a leadership election. It’s measured by: Did you help out when I was running for office? Did you come and do the fundraisers? Did you do what I needed to stay in power?”

If McCarthy moves up to the No. 2 spot, it doesn’t mean he would remain in that position after the November elections, The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt last week.

Read more from Molly K. Hooper and Bob Cusack at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy