I don’t know about you, but every morning for the past month I’ve woken up, crawled from bed to check the news, then consoled myself with the thought: “Only X more days until this hot mess of an election is done.” Losers want to riot? Bring it. At least the public can go back to ignoring pollsters, political consultants, and Newt Gingrich, the way God intended.
For one long-suffering soul, however, Election Day will not bring relief. Almost everyone agrees that, whatever happens November 8, Paul Ryan is looking at a lousy 2017. For starters, he’ll be contending with a vengeful Donald Trump, who has proved himself ungracious in both defeat and victory. But what really stinks for the speaker: Trump will likely be less of a headache than members of Ryan’s own conference.
For months, the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus has made no secret of its displeasure with Ryan. Some members are unhappy about his treatment of Trump. Others are disappointed at how few of their issues he prioritized this session. Still others blame him for Tea Partyer Tim Huelskamp’s primary loss. (Don’t ask.) Bottom line: Plenty of Freedom Caucusers are itching to teach the high and mighty Ryan a lesson.
The most direct rebuke would be for a caucus member to run in the upcoming speakership election. Alas, the rabble-rousers’ mission is complicated by the fact they lack a challenger well-positioned to garner the necessary support. (This is, ironically, a by-product of the caucus’s tendency to stick a thumb in the eye of fellow Republicans). Indeed, the dearth of hard-right challengers in the House has led to the bizarre development of Ryan’s failed primary opponent, businessman Paul Nehlen, announcing a bid for speaker. (Yes. A non-House member technically can hold the gavel.)