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Boehner Boasts of New Run for Speaker of the House

March 4, 2014

 House Speaker John A. Boehner will run for the position again and contends his re-election bid "won't even be close," saying Monday he's on solid ground with his often-fractious GOP troops.

"I frankly think I'm in better shape with my own caucus than I have been any time in the last three years. ... I think they understand me better," Mr. Boehner

He also told the paper his recent purchase of a condo in Marco Island, Fla. - which had stoked rumors of a possible retirement - "has nothing to do with my future."

Some conservative groups have been calling for Mr. Boehner to step aside after he's allowed major legislation to pass on several occasions with mostly Democratic votes - most recently, a one-year, no-strings-attached suspension of the federal government's borrowing limit.

"I don't see conservatives rallying to support the Republican party this November without a change in the Republican leadership. I just don't," said David Bozell, executive director of ForAmerica, a conservative advocacy group who has launched a "Dump the Leadership" campaign to install new leaders in the U.S. House and Senate.

Mr. Boehner said Monday such intra-party criticism "comes with the territory."

And others point out that rearguard attacks on Mr. Boehner have been discussed before.

"Despite all the grumbling and threats of an attempted coups, the bottom line is the people loyal to Boehner outnumber those that are not," said Ana Navarro, a Republican party strategist from Florida. "If he runs for Speaker, he will be re-elected."

After the 2012 elections, there was talk on Capitol Hill of a supposed push among a rump group of conservatives in the House to deny Mr. Boehner the majority he would need to be re-elected Speaker after taking the gavel in 2011. The push, however, ultimately came up short, even though about a dozen House Republicans voted for other members, didn't cast a vote, or simply voted "present."

That vote in early 2013 came right after negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" that saw the House - though only a minority of Republicans - approve a deal that increased tax rates on individuals making more than $400,000 a year and families making more than $450,000 a year to the rates in place during President Clinton's administration.

Despite the grumbling, it's also unclear whether there are any potential replacements for Mr. Boehner at the moment who could wield the Speaker's gavel and run an often-splintered GOP conference as successfully as he has.

"I think there is universal agreement that the Speaker has the toughest political job in Washington, D.C.," said Charlie Gerow, a Pennsylvania-based GOP consultant. "He will retire when he believes it is time."