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Franks did not, he said, and quickly rejected the appeal to join in. This was a “ridiculous miscalculation on the part of sincere but completely inept” members “to do something I think was totally unjustified,” Franks said.
Other members also dismissed the threat. “I was here when there was a credible challenge to [then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.,] and I don’t think this was a credible challenge. It was more disjointed people,” Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said.
But Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, an influential conservative member who vied for but lost a seat in leadership, said the dissent “speaks to a concern and frustration about where we are in this country and the imperative of addressing the serious issues that we’ve got.”
Price recently said in a radio interview that the GOP leadership team needed more “red state” representation and explained Thursday, “If you look at the Republican Conference, it’s about two-thirds/one-third, conservative/moderate, and that percent isn’t reflected, necessarily, either in the leadership table or the steering committee.”
Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico voted for Cantor, as did freshman Reps. Ted Yoho of Florida and Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma. Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Paul Broun of Georgia voted for former Rep. Allen B. West, R-Fla., and Reps. Steve Stockman of Texas and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina abstained.
Huelskamp suggested that the members who voted no are ready to be punished if leadership sees fit and said leadership had engaged in intimidation leading up to the vote. McCarthy denied that. “What? That is crazy! That’s not true in any state or form at all,” he said.
As interesting as the vote was, however, the lasting historical implications are limited given the history of the speakership. Brookings Institution fellow Sarah Binder said there was no candidate to coalesce around, and really no issue large enough to wrench the conference in half.
“It’s a ripple, sort of a footnote,” she said. “I would see this really as the symptom of the disease, not the cause of the disease. It’s emblematic of the difficulties Boehner has to deal with in his conference.”