A new analysis from the American Conservative Union (ACU) of voting records of various potential GOP candidates for Speaker of the House under the soon-to-be-ending Speakership of Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) shows that Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is far and away the best viable candidate for Speaker.
Blackburn, who’s considering running for Speaker and will discuss her potential bid on Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evening, would be the first female GOP Speaker of the House in U.S. history. She would be the second woman ever elected to the post, after current Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi served in the slot before Boehner.
Under Boehner’s speakership, which has lasted from 2011 until the present, Blackburn’s voting record is a 92 percent rating from the ACU. That means under GOP leadership, Blackburn has stood by her guns and voted her conscience—something conservatives and moderates alike are attracted to. As with most Republicans, her lifetime ACU rating is higher—96 percent—because the records include time when the GOP was in the minority and basically voted as a bloc against Democrat initiatives.
The vote analysis includes ACU scoring for the years of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Scoring for 2015 isn’t yet available. On this analysis of potential speakership candidates, there are three others who have higher scores than Blackburn’s 92 percent—House Benghazi Select Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) at 97 percent, House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) at 97 percent and House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) at 94 percent—but all three have complications when it comes to whether they would be able to cobble together 218-plus GOP votes in a Speakership bid and unite the GOP conference. Blackburn, it is universally understood in the House, would be able to get well more than 218 votes as a consensus GOP candidate for Speaker.
Gowdy’s complication is that he really doesn’t want to be the Speaker of the House, Scalise’s is that he’s had some major screw-ups as Whip and doesn’t have the full trust of the conference since he’s in Boehner’s leadership team, and Price’s is that he’s had issues along with Scalise in cobbling together enough votes to win the Majority Leader position—a lower threshold—so it’s expected he would have difficulty winning the Speakership. Price and Scalise were both running for current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s position before McCarthy ended up deciding to pull out of a Speakership run at the last possible minute due to lack of support in the conference and rumors of an alleged affair with Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), something both parties deny.
House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) places at 88 percent in the ACU rating, as does House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) while House Education and Workforce Committee chairman Rep. John Kline (R-MN)—who’s viewed as a potential “placeholder” candidate since he’s retiring at the end of his current term—earns 84 percent.
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)—who the entire political establishment and donor class claims is a consensus candidate like Blackburn—only earns 82 percent in the ACU ratings under Boehner’s Speakership. Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), the former Florida House Speaker who is running as a reform candidate aimed at decentralizing the Speaker’s power, gets 79 percent, as does McCarthy. House GOP conference chairwoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)—who, like Ryan, is another donor class establishment favorite—earns just 77 percent whereas Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), the former chief deputy whip and another member viewed like Blackburn as a consensus candidate, gets 76 percent. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a very close Boehner ally, earns a paltry 68 percent.
In a written analysis accompanying the vote-by-vote, year-by-year breakdown, ACU’s Larry Hart cites the group’s chairman Matt Schlapp as saying it’s time for a real conservative Speaker.
“American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, while saying the Republican Conference needs to resolve the ill will that caused this ‘unprecedented breakdown,’ called for the next Speaker to ‘promote a conservative agenda, fight for that agenda with all the tools offered by the Constitution and House rules,’” Hart writes. “At the same time, Schlapp said, that person must also be able to communicate these goals and have the character necessary to build consensus and block the Obama agenda.”
Hart adds that while all candidates will claim the mantle of conservatism when running, it’s important to look at the evidence of their records.
“It’s a safe bet that every House member who expresses an interest in the Speakership will say he or she fits that description, so how to separate the facts from the fluff?” Hart writes.
A good guide is the ACU Annual Ratings of Congress. There are a few good reasons why. ACU is the only organization that has published an annual rating of each member of Congress for 44 straight years. ACU does not rate votes on one or two specific issues, but covers a wide spectrum from Economic to Social to issues of National Security. There are detailed descriptions of each vote and why they are of importance to conservatives. They are not always the votes with the highest profile, although they are often included. Instead the votes selected are chosen to create a clear ideological distinction among those casting them.
ACU’s Schlapp and Dan Schneider will join Breitbart News Sunday on SiriusXM Patriot Ch. 125 on Sunday evening to break down this analysis as well. Schneider has already said he hopes Blackburn would run for the Speakership.
“Blackburn is the most conservative woman in all of Congress. She has a lifetime ACU rating of 96 – that puts her in a solid ‘A’ camp. Year-in and year-out she is consistently been a solid performer,” Schneider told Breitbart News’ Alex Swoyer last week. “I would hope she would run.”