Meyer suggests that only about 12 Republicans are actually willing to move against Boehner, and even that small number is likely to drop without any chance of success. He and others suggest a few reasons why—including fear of reprisals for any coup d'etat that fails, and Boehner’s deft awarding of committee posts to soften some of his opposition in recent weeks.
But more than anything, Meyers and others say that that no on has expressed a willingness—either through a nod, wink, or more open encouragement—to actually have his name put forth as an alternative to Boehner.
Of course, there have been several names thrown out that Boehner's detractors would like to see become speaker. One of the intriguing is Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., the darling of some conservatives, who was defeated for reelection in November (the Constitution does not require the speaker to be a member of the House). But West himself on Tuesday laughed off such talk, saying he has no intention of letting his name being placed in contention.
Other names floated include GOP Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Tom Price of Georgia, and Cantor. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., fresh off his losing vice presidential bid, also has been mentioned.
In fact, most House conservatives interviewed this week said that they have not been contacted by any colleagues trying to organize an oust-Boehner strategy.
In addition, all of those interviewed said they knew nothing personally of a strategy by some to push changing the speaker’s vote to a secret ballot so that Boehner dissidents could avoid retribution. A memo laying out such a strategy, purportedly written by unidentified House staffers, has been reported by breitbart.com. But several lawmakers noted that, even if it were being seriously considered, such a plan would require an almost self-defeating initial public vote by members to change the process to a secret ballot.
There is at least one lawmaker, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who this week acknowledged that he has been receiving “inquiries” about what he intends to do. It was Gohmert who nominated former Speaker Newt Gingrich for speaker in November when House Republicans formally picked Boehner behind closed doors to be their candidate.
Gingrich's nomination did not receive a second in that closed-door process, during which Boehner was picked by acclamation.
“I will keep an open mind,” Gohmert said about Thursday’s vote, including whether he intends to nominate somebody other than Boehner again. “I’m weighing my options.” But others say they expect little impact on Boehner’s reelection, regardless.
“He’s been beaten up a little,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., a conservative, said of Boehner. “But I sense no collective contention against him.”
And Boehner appears this week to be helping that feeling along.
On Tuesday, as House Republicans were still pressing concerns about the Senate-passed fiscal-cliff bill prior to the chamber’s late-night vote on the measure, even some of Boehner’s former targets found themselves praising how Boehner was handling the developments.
“I think the speaker today was as open as I’ve ever seen him to letting the conference work its will,” said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who was one of the members Boehner had just last month purged from a coveted committee post.
But by late Tuesday night, Boehner was again going against the grain of most of his GOP conference: While the House gave final passage to the deal, Boehner's top lieutenant, Cantor, and the majority whip, McCarthy, joined a majority of House Republicans in opposing it.
This article appears in the Jan. 3, 2013, edition of National Journal Daily as Rumors Aside, Boehner Election Seems Assured.