View Mobile Site

Boehner chosen to lead House GOP, pledges fight to regain control from Democrats

WASHINGTON — Cast into the minority by an angry electorate, House Republicans chose Rep. John Boehner of Ohio on Friday to lead a return to power as quickly as possible. ‘‘We’re going to earn our way back into the majority,’’ he vowed.
    To do that, he said, ‘‘we need to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable federal government.’’
    Boehner defeated Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana for minority leader on a secret ballot vote of 168-27, a margin that demonstrated fellow lawmakers do not hold him responsible for the election losses the party suffered on Nov. 7. The Ohio Republican has been serving as majority leader, the second-in-command in the leadership, since February.
    Another leadership veteran, Roy Blunt of Missouri, won a new term as party whip, defeating Arizona Rep. John Shadegg on a vote of 137-57. ‘‘You know, it’s not our job to defend business as usual, not our job to try to define the federal government in the biggest possible way,’’ Blunt said.
    As Republican leader, Boehner’s job, at least in part, will be to oppose legislation advanced by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker-in-waiting, and help develop alternatives designed to appeal to the electorate in 2008.
    ‘‘I think what the American people care about are: who’s going to hold down spending in Washington, who’s going to cut their taxes, who’s going to make sure that America is strong and can defend itself and make sure that it’s safe and secure for American families,’’ he said at the news conference.
    At the same time, Boehner will have to keep in mind the wishes of the White House, where President Bush will be in his final two years, and a need to work more cooperatively with Democrats if Republicans are to succeed in passing legislation.
    Boehner’s ascension as the top party leader followed a decision by Speaker Dennis Hastert not to seek the post in the wake of the party’s losses. Hastert, of Illinois, is the longest-serving Republican speaker in history, a position that is filled by a member of the majority party. He announced last week he would remain in Congress.
    Also notable was that while eight Republicans — the entire leadership — spoke at a news conference — none mentioned Bush in prepared remarks. The president has come in for criticism from many lawmakers in the days since Nov. 7, and some have said privately he probably cost the GOP some seats by waiting until after the election to jettison Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
    In campaigning for their support in recent days, Boehner wrote fellow Republicans that the election had been in part a referendum on the administration and the war in Iraq — factors beyond their control. ‘‘What we can control is the third part of our loss: the simple fact that we failed to live up to the expectations of voters who had supported us since 1994,’’ he wrote.
    After more than a decade in power, he noted Republicans had struggled with scandal as Rep. Tom DeLay stepped down under pressure, Rep. Randy Cunningham pleaded guilty to bribery and Rep. Bob Ney confessed to corruption charges.
    These cases, as well Rep. Mark Foley, who had sent sexually explicit computer messages to teenage pages, ‘‘mainly acted to confirm underlying concerns that voters had about us. They thought we were doing more to protect our jobs instead of ... real problems they face in their everyday lives,’’ Boehner wrote four days after the election.
    Boehner, 56, is a 14-year, pro-business veteran of Congress with a solidly conservative voting record. With Hastert’s pre-election travels curtailed in the wake of the Foley scandal, the Ohioan campaigned extensively for Republican candidates. In the final days before the election, he was one of several senior leaders to make numerous appearances on cable television and talk radio programs favored by conservatives, part of an effort to maximize turnout at the polls.
    ‘‘If you want bigger government and higher taxes, vote for Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. If you do want someone down on the border with open arms welcoming people across the border, vote for them,’’ Boehner told Michael Medved, a conservative radio talk show host, in one appearance.
    ‘‘And, if you want to let the terrorists win in Iraq, just vote for the Democrats.’’
    In other GOP elections, Rep. Eric Cantor was named to a new term as chief deputy whip. He was in an enviable position — both Blunt and Shadegg supported him.
    Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma won the race to lead the GOP campaign committee.

Interested in viewing premium content?

A subscription is required before viewing this article and other premium content.

Already a registered member and have a subscription?

If you have already purchased a subscription, please log in to view the full article.

Are you registered, but do not have a subscription?

If you are a registed user and would like to purchase a subscription, log in to view a list of available subscriptions.

Interested in becoming a registered member and purchasing a subscription?

Join our community today by registering for a FREE account. Once you have registered for a FREE account, click SUBSCRIBE NOW to purchase access to premium content.

Membership Benefits

  • Instant access to creating Blogs, Photo Albums, and Event listings.
  • Email alerts with the latest news.
  • Access to commenting on articles.

Please wait ...