By Russell Berman - 04/29/14 03:36 PM EDT
A House Republican who supported Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in 2013 is predicting Boehner won’t run for the job again and says he would be surprised if he could win reelection by the House.
“I don’t think John Boehner will be Speaker this time next year,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said in an interview. “But I think it’s because, in my judgment, he’s not going to run for reelection as Speaker, but if he does, I’ll be mildly surprised if he can get the 218 votes that the Constitution requires.”
His prediction came hours after Boehner used a private GOP meeting to walk back comments he made in Ohio last week that were seen as mocking his fellow Republicans for a lack of courage to pursue immigration reform.
“You only tease the ones you love,” Boehner told reporters, repeating a phrase he used inside the meeting. He acknowledged, however, that “sometimes I can rib people just a little too much.”
Boehner last week told a hometown rotary club in Ohio that many of his colleagues “take the path of least resistance” rather than make hard choices like confronting a broken immigration system.
“Here's the attitude. 'Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,' ” Boehner said in a high-pitched voice, likening his fellow Republicans to a small child.
Brooks is a staunch opponent of legislation that would give legal status or citizenship to illegal immigrants, and he said Tuesday that Boehner’s explanation was “inadequate.”
“I did not think the Speaker’s comments were reflective of the concerns of the Republican Conference,” he told The Hill. “They were counterproductive to the Republican Conference. I’m pleased that he apologized for having made these remarks, but he really shouldn’t have made them in the first place, because they’re untrue.”
Brooks said it was Boehner’s actions on immigration as well as several other comments and moves he has made in recent months that have led him to believe he won’t seek reelection.
“He is just not acting like an individual who is doing the things you would need to do to get reelected Speaker of the House,” Brooks said.
“It might be the acquisition of the residency in Florida, it might be blaming the Republicans, his own caucus, for the shutdown, it might be blaming his own caucus for the impasse over immigration, it might be the rather salty language he has used to describe some of his own Republican Conference members, but you add all these things, and that’s just not the kind of conduct you would expect from someone who is going to run for Speaker.”
Boehner has insisted both publicly and privately in recent weeks that he plans to run for another term as Speaker if Republicans retain the House, and he has argued that his support within the conference is as strong as it has ever been.
A group of conservatives made a failed bid to oust Boehner in January 2013, and 12 Republicans refused to vote for him. He received 220 votes, narrowly passing the majority threshold needed to win the Speaker’s gavel.
A number of members have suggested they will look to rally support for an alternative to Boehner, although no other Republican has publicly declared an intention to challenge him.
Asked if he would oppose Boehner on the floor, Brooks said, “I need to see who exactly is running to make a choice.”