Sunday, November 16, 2008

ND Alum to challenge Boehner

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner better watch out: he's in the sights of a Notre Dame Grad. That's right! ND alumnus Dan Lungren of California plans to challenge Mr. Boehner for the top Republican post in the House. Although considered a darkhorse by most, Mr. Lungren may prove to be a formidable opponent.

The talking heads are cautious about predicting a mutiny in the Republican Caucus because public criticism of Mr. Boehner has been so muted. Meanwhile, the Ohio congressman has been working strategically behind the scenes to ensure that no serious challengers come out of the woodwork. Indeed, he successfully neutralized the threat posed by Indiana Congressman Mike Pence earlier this month. You may recall that Mr. Pence unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Boehner for the leadership in 2006.

Mr. Lungren presents an interesting choice for House Republicans looking for new direction. A former attorney general of California, he appeals to the more conservative wing of the party while remaining tenable to the moderates. Conventional wisdom would say not to change horses in the middle of a race, mainly because Boehner did the best he could. Yet, in the search for a new face for the Republican Party, Mr. Lungren may be just what the doctor ordered. He is media savy and certainly appears much less of an insider than Mr. Boehner or his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell.

Anything goes behind the closed doors of the Republican Caucus, and that's why I think that this is one darkhorse who should not be ruled out.

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