Wednesday, April 29, 2009

John Boehner's last term in Congress?

The Hamilton Pulse Journal is reporting that Republican Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones has taken out petitions to run for the Republican nomination in John Boehner's district. Jones told the paper that he is not yet announcing a candidacy but has only picked up the paperwork to run if decides to do so. He is forming an exploratory committee to consider a run.

In the story, there's this curious quote from Sheriff Jones:

"Timing is everything," Jones said. "The three commissioners we have now won’t be leaving soon. The 8th Congressional District is a conservative district (that) I do well in. We'll have to see."

This tells me that Jones believes that John Boehner may not run for re-election, as he's essentially saying that he's not considering other offices because they aren't vacant. I've heard talk in Republican circles that Boehner may retire "soon," but that has always been portrayed as being possibly at some point in the next few terms.

A retirement by Boehner isn't implausible. At the end of this term. Boehner will have served in Congress for twenty years. He's not on any short list for a Senate seat race or any other statewide race, but he'd easily fit in on K Street as a lobbyist.

Boehner is not a popular figure in Washington. Since becoming House Minority Leader, the Republicans have gone through two straight brutal election cycles and predictions are that 2010 is not going to be a Republican rose garden, either.

Boehner wants to avoid the embarassment of being removed from the House Republican leadership for the second time in his congressional career. He barely hung on as Minority Leader this Congress. He did so by convincing rising conservative stars like Eric Cantor to serve in lower positions instead, leaving the disaffected Republicans no viable alternative to organize and support.

Boehner cannot afford a third bad political cycle. The national dialogue about how the Republican Party lacks a national leader is an of indictment to tenure of Boehner's lack of leadership. A retirement does not put a seat at risk and allows Boehner to gracefully exit without suffering the indignity of being outsted in a coup and forced to spend his time in Congress as a politically impotent member of the House minority caucus.

Jones, by the way, is a media whore who has stoked people's fears about undocumented immigrants (a real problem in the county) and actions designed to humiliate and degrade jail inmates as a way to appear to the public as being tough on crime. He's very much like Arizona Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio who Jones have mimiced many of the same actions as that attention-seeking sheriff. So, don't think that Jones would necessarily be an improvement.

While Politico and the Pulse Journal are reporting this as a possible primary challenge, I think Jones' comment suggests growing confidence in the GOP Congresisonal candidate pool that John Boehner will not run for re-election in 2010 and it's time his potential successors start staking out their claim to his seat.

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