William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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A FINE MESS – AT 10:25 A.M. ET:  The Republican Party is essentially leaderless.  Mitt Romney was last seen on a milk carton, and the congressional leaders don't hold much sway with the public. 

Now there are signs of some serious discontent within congressional ranks, especially regarding Speaker Boehner, who is seen by a number of conservatives as too establishment.  We hope this can be settled quietly, without a major party split, but some good people should get active double quick.  From The Washington Times:

House Speaker John A. Boehner is facing increasing pressure as several rebellious Republicans hinted that they won’t vote to re-elect him to run the chamber, and a conservative interest group announced a bid to recruit someone else to run against him for the speakership.

Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, is not in any danger yet — the rebellion shows no signs of reaching beyond a small group of dissatisfied lawmakers — but it could complicate his efforts to strike a deal with President Obama to head off the looming “fiscal cliff” that will send tax rates soaring and will impose automatic spending cuts early next month.

American Majority Action, a conservative interest group, on Monday endorsed Rep. Tom Price and two other Republicans who they said should replace Mr. Boehner and his top lieutenants, and has launched a lobbying push to try to sway rank-and-file members to withhold their votes from Mr. Boehner.

Mr. Price won’t challenge Mr. Boehner, a spokesman said.

But lawmakers can vote for anyone when the House members cast ballots Jan. 3 for the next speaker, and if Republican members vote for someone other than Mr. Boehner, that could help Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

So far it’s a matter of threats, as some Republicans hold out the possibility of voting for an alternative.

Last week, Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican who was one of four lawmakers booted from his committee assignments after leaders said he wasn’t a team player on votes, refused to commit to supporting Mr. Boehner. He told CNN that the speaker needs to be “willing to make amends.”

On Monday, Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona, another Republican who was stripped of his assignments, seemed to float the idea of voting for Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is the second ranking Republican in the House.

“I must tell you that I’ve had wonderful relationships with [House Majority Leader] Eric Cantor and I’ve actually found him to be one of the truly straight shooters I’ve dealt with,” Mr. Schweikert said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

COMMENT:  Boehner has never been all that popular, and has no great public presence.  But Boehner must deal with this friction early, and take care of the needs of conservatives, who are the party's core. 

The Republican Party is in the wilderness, after last month's unexpected losses.  But 2014 is creeping up fast, and a civil war is not what the party needs.

December 11, 2012