Boehner’s Got a Race

Posted November 14, 2008 at 1:57pm

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) announced Friday that he will take on House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the GOP’s top leadership post in the 111th Congress.

“We need to seriously examine the direction of our Party,” Lungren said in a statement.

To date, Boehner has managed to fend off any challengers to his post, despite the fact that House Republicans lost more than 20 seats on Election Day. Lungren said a change in leadership is warranted given the recent wave of GOP losses.

“It is my belief that it is neither in the interest of our party or the advancement of our conservative principles to simply affirm the status quo by acclamation in light of what happened on November 4th,” Lungren said.

“After discussions with several of my colleagues, it has become increasingly clear to me that we must not revert to ‘business as usual’ in the selection of our House Republican Leadership,” he said. “It is undeniable that the American people are tired of the way Congress has conducted its business on their behalf.”

In response to the news, Boehner said in a statement: “Dan Lungren is a respected member of our Conference and a man deeply committed to the principles that have defined our party since the beginning.”

In a Dear Colleague letter sent today, Lungren called Boehner “a good man — one of honor and integrity.” But he said he is running for Minority Leader because, “I think our party is in trouble.”

“If we don’t admit our difficulties and address them aggressively, we not only run the risk of becoming a permanent Congressional Minority but we will do a disservice to our nation.”

The California Republican said the first step is to hold a three-hour, closed-door Conference meeting specifically to discuss the question of electing the Republican Leader. During this “Member-friendly” forum, lawmakers can engage with leadership before they are chosen, he said.

Lungren faces an uphill battle against Boehner, who didn’t waste any time building support for his leadership re-election following the wave of GOP losses on Nov. 4.

Previously, Lungren ran for Conference Chairman in 2006, but lost to Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.). House Republicans are set to elect their new leadership on Wednesday.