Boehner Should Face Primary Challenge: Top Tea Party Activist
Signs abound of the pressures on Speaker John Boehner and other House Republicans to show real results on spending cuts.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found, for instance, that those voters focused on spending cuts are the voters who matter most to Republicans — their base.
As a writer for MSNBC's FirstRead observed (apparently based, in part, on some additional data or cross tabs not in the published poll document) :
Consider: 33% of Tea Party supporters, 34% of Republicans, and 35% of McCain voters list deficit/spending as the top issue the federal government should address, compared with 23% of independents, 24% of suburban women, 19% of seniors, and 19% of those ages 18 to 34 who say that. By contrast, 35% of seniors, 39% of 18- to 34-year-olds, 40% of independents, and 41% of suburban women believe job creation/economic growth is nation's top issue. And two-thirds of independents, seniors, 18- to 34-year-olds and suburban women say they are concerned that major cuts to government spending could impact them and their families, versus roughly half of Republicans, McCain voters, and Tea Party supporters who think that.
Actually, you might expect that percentage of Tea Party Republicans citing cutting deficits as their highest priority to be higher.
But clearly, Tea Party conservatives place greater importance on that than other voters.
In the FirstRead post, Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the survey along with Democrat Peter Hart, said the results highlight the pressures on congressional Republicans:
"It may be hard to understand why a person might jump off a cliff, unless you understand they're being chased by a tiger," he said. "That tiger is the Tea Party." McInturff's explanation: The Americans who are most concerned about spending cuts are core Republicans and conservatives, not independents or swing voters.
Of course, those "core conservatives" are part of the platoons of activists that can make a Republican incumbent's life miserable during a primary campaign.
Which helps explain why so many people are noting a blog post by one of those worrisome tigers, Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, in which he calls for a primary challenge to House Speaker John Boehner.
In a post (behind a sign-in wall) headlined, "The Honeymoon Is Over: It's Time To Primary John Boehner," Phillips tells Boehner:
"You look like a fool... Charlie Sheen is now making more sense than John Boehner...
"Early on, the GOP promised to cut $100 billion from the budget. The Republicans in the House quickly went squishy on that and had to be cajoled into cutting only $61 billion. Now, John Boehner is saying when the Senate comes back and they start negotiating...the $61 billion figure is not safe...
"Where are the calls for the cutting of 'hundreds of billions?' They certainly are not coming from Boehner. Boehner is simply going to the old tried and true Republican tactic of saying, 'we promised you we would vote on it, and we did!'
"No, John. You were not put in the Speaker's chair simply to have votes and pat yourself on the back. You were put in the Speaker's chair to do something."
"There is no other way to put this. The Tea Party movement should find a candidate to run against John Boehner in 2012 and should set as a goal, to defeat in a primary, the sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives."
Sitting speakers generally don't find themselves losing re-election. Rep. Tom Foley, a Washington State Democrat, was the last one that happened to in 1994, the Gingrich Revolution election.
Before that, you have to go all the way back to Republican Rep. Galusha Grow in 1862.
So the force, of history at least, is with Boehner. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.