Despite some flimsy hype that 20 Republicans were going to turn against John Boehner at the speaker vote today, nothing of the sort ended up happening. Boehner won another term, with 220 votes (considering the number of abstentions, he needed 214 votes to win a majority). But he did get some retaliation from 12 Republicans who either voted for other members or sat out the vote. Dave Weigel describes the scene:
The tiny rebellion started early in the roll call, when the chair presiding over the House called on Rep. Justin Amash. Every Republican was supposed to vote John Boehner for speaker. But the Michigan sophomore cast a vote for Rep. Raul Labrador, an Idaho sophomore who happened to be sitting stony-faced next to him. The House floor filled with awkward “Oooohs” and the occasional “Who?”
The early part of the alphabet turned out to be trouble. Rep. Paul Broun voted for Allen West—who lost his seat last year—to become speaker. John Bridenstine, a new member from Oklahoma who upset an incumbent in a 2012 primary, voted for Eric Cantor. When Cantor’s turn came, he said “John. Boehner.” with the tone of voice you’d use on a telemarketer who put you on hold for three hours.
Boehner came out of it with some bruises, but it wasn’t the civil war the left, and segments of the right, were hoping for. And that’s a good thing for Republicans, who would be in a weakened position if there was a bitter dispute over the gavel going into the debt ceiling debate.
There was never a competitive alternative for the position, anyway. Nobody in leadership was publicly contesting it, contrary to speculation that Majority Leader Eric Cantor was making moves behind the scenes. And based on his gruff vote for Boehner today, it sounds like Cantor was not happy about those rumors.