Ultra-conservatives celebrating House Speaker John Boehner’s departure from Congress might want to tap the brakes a bit, University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said Friday.
“If you’re going to try to lead the House the way the very conservative element of the Republican Party wants you to do, you’re not going to get anything done either,” he said.
“It’s not that you’re going to replace him and all of the sudden there’s a miracle worker who is ... going to be productive.”
Boehner, 13-term Ohio Republican and second in line to the presidency, announced his resignation during a closed-door session with fellow Republicans Friday morning. It takes effect at the end of October.
A constant focus of conservatives' complaints, Boehner was facing the threat of a floor vote on whether he could stay on as speaker, a formal challenge that hasn't happened in more than 100 years.
That was being pushed by tea partyers convinced Boehner wasn't fighting hard enough to strip Planned Parenthood of government funds, even though doing so risked a government shutdown next week.
“It's become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution,” Boehner said in a news conference several hours later. “There was never any doubt I could survive the vote, but I didn't want my members to go through this; I didn't want this institution to go through this.”
Bullock said he believes Boehner “got tired of fighting” with the party’s far-right members.
“They won’t compromise and you can’t govern if you can’t compromise,” Bullock said.
Sheila Nicholas, chairwoman of the Hall County Democratic Party, said of Boehner, “You could see him over the past couple of years just being exasperated.
“For him to realize that, by stepping down, that possibly the Republicans can get their act together — good for him.”
At the annual Value Voters forum in Washington, several hundred evangelical voters leapt to their feet and cheered when they heard Boehner had resigned.
Republican presidential hopefuls had expected to spend their time trying to win over the influential group, but the forum became something of a victory lap, as one 2016 candidate after another joined in the celebration of Boehner's departure.
“I'm not here to bash anyone,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said, "but the time has come to turn the page.”
In an emailed statement, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said, “While I disagreed with Speaker Boehner on many occasions, I have enjoyed working with him and I have a lot of respect for him.
“In difficult times, he has shown grace and dignity as a man of faith.”
Collins, who was in the GOP meeting with Boehner, said that “from the beginning of his time in the House, (Boehner) challenged the establishment to be more conservative, as one of the original architects of the Republican Revolution.
“He has led the House to the largest Republican majority since World War II, and guided our party for many years.”
The two-term congressman said, “This institution will change when he is gone, and it will be no easy task for his successor to fill the void he leaves. I wish Speaker Boehner all the best, and it has been an honor to serve with him.”
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said in a prepared statement that while he regretted Boehner’s retirement, “I respect his decision and thank him for his unselfish service to the United States.
“Under John’s leadership, the Republican majority in the House gained strength and worked hard to reduce spending, defend America’s interest internationally and empower free enterprise. I will miss my friend.”
President Barack Obama, Boehner's frequent antagonist and occasional partner, called the speaker "a good man" and a patriot.
"And I think, maybe most importantly, he's somebody who understands that in government and governance, you don't get 100 percent of what you want," the president said. "But you have to work with people who you disagree with, and sometimes strongly, in order to do the people's business."
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California has been viewed as Boehner’s possible successor.
But there are other concerns on Republicans’ minds — such as reclaiming the White House next year.
“If the Republicans say they want to win the White House next year, (they need to say) ‘Let’s not do some of these crazy things, such as shut down the government,’” Nicholas said. “‘Let’s try to be one voice — a voice of reason.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.