Rep. Price won't challenge Boehner

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) ruled out a challenge to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday, halting speculation that the Georgia lawmaker could be gathering support for a bid for the Speaker’s gavel.

“Congressman Price is not running for Speaker,” Price spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael said in a statement. “He is focused on real solutions to get America back on track. Those solutions reside in fundamental principles that embrace individual opportunity and economic freedom.”

The statement from Price’s office followed a story in National Review suggesting House GOP leaders were concerned Price could be mounting a conservative challenge to Boehner. Price lost a bid earlier this year to become conference chairman to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), an ally of Boehner's.

“Price is the person we’re all watching,” one aide told the magazine. “We know he’s frustrated, but we don’t know much else.”

In the National Review story, Price refused to speculate on his future but suggested a wariness with Boehner.

“My concern is that within our conference, conservatives, who are a majority, don’t have a proper platform,” he said. “That’s true at the leadership table and on the steering committee.”

But Price also said he has been encouraged by Boehner's negotiating tactics thus far.

“If the speaker listens to the conference and agrees to not raise taxes, he’ll be successful,” he said. “So far, I think the speaker is doing that,” he added. “But we’ve got to watch what happens.”

While unseating Boehner would be unlikely, some conservatives have voiced frustration with the Speaker’s willingness to accept higher tax revenues as part of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations with President Obama.

Boehner has also faced criticism from outside groups after removing four members from committee posts last week. The lawmakers, Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), David Schweikert (Ariz.) and Walter Jones (N.C.), have complained that leadership is punishing conservatives who have voted against the party line. Amash has said he would consider voting against Boehner for Speaker.

Outsider challenges to leadership are rare, but not unprecedented. In 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was unsuccessfully challenged by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) for minority leader after Democrats lost control of the House.

Price has also been rumored as a potential candidate to mount a challenge against Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) in the 2014 GOP primary. But a PPP poll released last week shows Chambliss with a 50-22 margin in a hypothetical head-to-head showdown.