Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds' abrupt withdrawal last week from the 16-way contest to fill the vacancy created by Speaker John A. Boehner’s retirement is another sign of how little conservatives think of the former speaker.
Reynolds was seen as a favorite among the 14 Republicans in the race and was believed to have Boehner's backing. But that didn't work in Reynolds' favor among some conservatives.
“It is pretty clear that Boehner is behind Roger Reynolds,” Lori Viars, a board member of the Conservative Republican Leadership Committee, told Cincinnati.com in October. And that, she hinted, might not be such a good thing.
“While Boehner is a big fish in Butler County, a lot of conservatives who vote in primaries have not been happy with him,” she warned.
Conservatives, who had fought with Boehner for most of his four years as speaker, cheered Boehner's exit, then thwarted his would-be successor, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Earlier this month, Reps. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., announced they would seek to eliminate a taxpayer-funded office afforded to Boehner’s predecessors. Jones and Massie said their efforts weren't directed at Boehner, but they added that he would be alright post-office without taxpayer help, which allowed for up to three assistants in addition to the office.
Buckeye State Republicans expected the 8th District race to be one between Reynolds, state Sen. Bill Beagle and state Rep. Tim Derickson. Upon exiting the race, Reynolds endorsed Derickson, with whom he was expected to split the vote in Butler County while Beagle was expected to have more appeal in outlying areas.
Reynolds in a statement said he miscalculated his ability to juggle a House race and family life. “I now realize a healthy balance is not possible and my family must take priority,” he told Cincinnati.com last week.
One Republican operative told Roll Call that Reynolds was "demoralized" by coming one percentage point short of the 60 percent necessary to secure the Butler County GOP endorsement.
Related: Candidates Crowd Into Race to Claim John Boehner’s Seat Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.