Right fumes after freshmen balk at revolt

Right fumes after freshmen balk at revolt
© Francis Rivera

Several new House Republicans backtracked on campaign promises to oppose John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerPelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats On The Trail: How Trump lost the law and order debate MORE’s (R-Ohio) bid for another term as Speaker. 

Conservative groups blasted the new lawmakers who tried to rally the base during their 2014 races by pledging to vote for alternatives to BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerPelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats On The Trail: How Trump lost the law and order debate MORE and the current House GOP leadership.


Only one freshman, Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), ended up opposing Boehner on the floor in Tuesday’s vote after pledging to do so during his campaign. Palmer instead voted for Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHarris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House The Memo: Team Trump looks to Pence to steady ship in VP debate MORE (R-Ala.), who is not a member of the House.

Three other freshmen who didn’t make pledges did defect, but it’s newcomers who made promises that are under fire. 

The conservative Madison Project excoriated three lawmakers it endorsed during the 2014 campaign, claiming Reps. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) and John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) violated a pledge signed with its political action committee to vote against the current leadership.

“Choosing to side with the Washington establishment and turn a blind eye to John Boehner’s attacks on conservatives and his unwillingness to stand up to President Obama and executive amnesty was a slap in the face to the conservative movement,” political director Drew Ryun said in a statement. 

Ryun said that the group had spoken to grassroots conservatives in the respective districts to put the lawmakers “on notice.”

“This vote and act of betrayal to our conservative principles will be at the forefront of our minds when deciding to endorse in the future,” Ryun continued.

New Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) indicated last year that he’d be a thorn in Boehner’s side upon arriving to Congress, though he didn’t explicitly promise to vote against him.

“I would have no problem looking for an alternative to Speaker Boehner,” Grothman said at an August debate. “I have no problem standing up to Republican leadership.”

But he ultimately voted for the Speaker, leaving conservatives who predicted Grothman would join their grassroots efforts disappointed.

“Elections have a way of voluntarily and willingly neutering congressmen,” RedState blogger Erick Erickson wrote. “There will be no standing up by Glenn Grothman.”

Loudermilk explained that he voted for Boehner because no “viable alternative” came forward. The Georgia Republican noted that he expressed dissent during the closed-door House GOP conference leadership elections in November, where Boehner was unopposed.

“When Republicans chose our nominee, I was one of three who voted for new leadership. However, nearly two months later, we still were not presented with another serious candidate,” he said.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) also expressed dissent during the House GOP leadership elections in November. But, like Loudermilk, he felt the rebellion was poorly organized.

“I truly regret that a proper campaign was not waged, with the issues fully debated, that would have allowed a conservative to prevail in November, yet I huddled with fellow conservatives up until 10 minutes before the House was called to order,” Hice said in a statement.

He still warned that conservatives will keep Boehner on guard in the new Congress.

“Indeed, today is not the final verdict on the Speaker’s leadership or even a vote of confidence. If he does not deliver on his pledge to lead as a conservative, we will displace him,” he said.

Similarly, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) said during the campaign cycle that he’d vote for Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears Tim Scott invokes Breonna Taylor, George Floyd in Trump convention speech Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington MORE (R-S.C.), who chairs the panel investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. But he chose to vote for Boehner after an alternative candidate didn’t come forward in November.  

“A change in House leadership, at this time and in this way, would have detracted from our conservative message,” Walker said.