John Boehner

By Joel Gehrke
September 25, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) will be the next target of conservatives frustrated with party leadership, according to one of the conservative representatives who pressured House speaker John Boehner in the weeks leading up to his resignation.

“Next guy in the crosshairs will probably be McConnell,” Representative Matt Salmon (R., Ariz.) said in a text message to Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), according to National Journal’s Sarah Mimms. Lee replied that he doubts that will happen.

Still, Salmon’s speculation reflects a theory of Boehner’s struggles that is common among the outgoing speaker’s friends and foes alike — that his unpopularity among the grassroots stems more from McConnell’s failure to take advantage of the Senate majority than anything House Republicans have done. If that’s true, then Boehner’s departure can hardly be expected to ease the tensions between GOP leadership and the conservative base or preempt more leadership fights in the future.

“People are frustrated with out Republican leadership, with Boehner and McConnell, and it’s not usually the third or fourth question that comes up — it’s the first question that comes up,” Representative Marlin Stutzman (R., Ind.), who voted against Boehner in January, told National Review last week. “It’s happening at tea-party events, but it’s [also] happened at Republican breakfasts, it’s happening at donor meetings — there’s a deep frustration.”

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