Boehner Gets a Challenger from the Right

A Tea Party activist from Ohio will challenge the Republican Speaker in 2012

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Why has House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, been so unwilling to compromise with President Obama, even when the president has come around to accept -- to take a recent example -- Boehner's call for a $4 trillion package of deficit cuts?

Well, perhaps any agreement with the Democratic president, even what little there has been so far, is too much for Boehner's most conservative constituents. The evidence for that theory arrived Saturday in the form of 26-year-old David Lewis, a Tea Party movement activist who announced on Friday to the Cincinnati Enquirer that he would challenge Boehner for his seat.

The 26-year-old Batavia resident and married father of a 2-year-old girl said he’s riding on a single issue: Boehner’s support of a federal budget that provided funding to Planned Parenthood, which Lewis calls “the largest killer of unborn babies in America.”
What makes him think he has a chance against the West Chester Republican who ran away with 85 percent of the vote in a three-way primary race last year?
“I’m not delusional. I don’t know if I have a chance at beating the Speaker of the House,” Lewis said Friday. “But what I can do is show the Ohio voters that Boehner has a box full of empty rhetoric. He doesn’t really vote for his convictions. He’s an establishment Republican. He doesn’t believe in the tea party. He doesn’t really believe in the pro-life issues.”

The story immediately leaped to national outlets (see Fox News, for instance). But there appears to be more smoke here than fire, and perhaps at most a cautionary reminder to Boehner of the amount of deviation from a orthodoxy that his party's fired-up conservative activists will currently tolerate. (Amount: 0.) For starters, Lewis doesn't even live in Boehner's district, though he has said he'll move there to run.

The Speaker, who didn't talk to the local paper, has seen challenges before. He fended off two primary opponents in his last campaign, the Enquirer notes, by taking 85 percent of the vote.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.