Boehner vs. Blunt: The E-Mail Wars

One of the results of the growing awareness of the blogosphere as an information medium is that I get an increasing amount of emailed press releases from various interest groups feeding me things they hope will appear on the blog. As with all such blanket campaigns, most of them are not of much interest to me and they wind up on my spam list. Occasionally, the information is useful and does appear on the blog–almost always sourced. Sometimes, as happened with several releases from the Kerry campaign, it backfires and results in a fisking.

Among those who have adopted the “send it to the bloggers” strategy are Members of Congress. I get invited to various “Bloggers Row” events that I have to decline because I have an actual paying job and am not interested in spending my vacation days attending meetings. The DeLay staff sent me dozens of emails during his travails.

The last couple of days, I’ve gotten numerous releases from the staffs of House Majority Whip Roy Blunt and Rep. John Boehner advancing their candidacy for DeLay’s vacated Majority Leader slot.

I’ve just received a release entitled “BLUNT’S SUPPORT BROAD, GROWING” informing me that,

The following Members of the Republican conference are actively working in support of House Majority Whip Roy Blunt’s bid for Majority Leader. Representing a broad ideological and geographical cross-section of the conference, these Members have agreed to make their names public and to work on Blunt’s behalf. This list is in no way comprehensive but exemplifies the diversity of Blunt’s support:

The list is long, consisting mostly of lower tier Members of whom I’ve never heard. It is then appended by several endorsements including these:

Katherine Harris (R-FL)

“The Republican Conference has established a remarkable record of accomplishment, and we must move forward as soon as possible to elect a new permanent Majority Leader to continue this legacy of success.

“Since my election to Congress, I have known Roy Blunt not only to be a leader of extraordinary character and vision, but also a man of vigorous action. From his personal commitment to me to establish concurrent receipts for our veterans when others had abandoned their promise, to his willingness to embrace fiscal discipline in the face of opposition, I have always known Roy Blunt to be a man of his word.

“Congressman Blunt has been instrumental in leading our Conference to achieve significant feats in an overwhelmingly difficult environment. His strategic leadership, combined with a gracious appeal, has resulted in the many products of our success. Congressman Roy Blunt is the leader we need now more than ever and I am proud to offer my support for him.”

Bobby Jindal (R-LA)

“I offer my full support to Congressman Blunt and endorse his efforts to be our party’s next Leader in the House of Representatives. I have had the opportunity to work with him over the past 13 months, in his role as Majority Whip and Acting Majority Leader, and have been impressed by his leadership skills, his focus, and his vision for our party, this Congress, and our country. I have been very grateful for his assistance and energy as we look to rebuild my home state after the tragedies of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as Majority Leader.”

Chris Shays (R-CT)

“I will support Roy Blunt for majority leader. Roy has done a good job of reaching out to moderates and conservatives alike.”

The endorsement of Harris and the anti-endorsement of George Will are enough to make me rather dubious of Blunt’s merit.

The Boehner campaign is going in a different direction, pointing me to various op-ed pieces either endorsing their man or slamming Blunt. Will’s piece, which I discovered independently, is among them. They also point to a WSJ article by Brendan Miniter claiming that,

Congressmen don’t often tout a record of not steering money back to their districts. But that’s one thing Rep. John Boehner is doing now in hope of becoming the next House majority leader.

On Sunday the Ohio Republican, kicking off his bid for the post Tom DeLay finally abandoned over the weekend, called for a “conversation on renewal.” Behind the scenes he’s lining up support by reminding members that he has voted against all three of the major highway bills that have come up for a vote during his 15 years in Congress, including the most recent pork-filled bonanza that President Bush signed last year, and that he has often refused to add earmarks to transportation bills. His staff has even circulated criticism from the Cincinnati Enquirer–Mr. Boehner’s hometown newspaper–for forgoing tens of millions of dollars in pork that he could have easily directed to his district.

Whether or not Mr. Boehner is the right man to lead the House majority, his conversation is clearly necessary now. House Republicans have been adrift for at least a year and arguably haven’t accomplished anything big since the initial flourish of conservative ideas shortly after Newt Gingrich led the party in a takeover of Congress in 1994. Welfare reform came in 1996, as did the Freedom to Farm Act, which curbed subsidies until it was undone two years later. Congress did pass President Bush’s tax cuts after the dot-com bubble burst, but with even more Republicans in the House and Senate today and clear evidence that the cuts are fueling the booming economy, Congress has been unable to renew them, much less make them permanent. Meanwhile spending continues largely unabated; Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are still headed for fiscal meltdown; and Republicans are in danger of not standing for limited or even ethical government.

They also point to a Cox News Editorial making a similar case:

Two Republicans announced Monday their intent to seek the post — Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and Republican Whip Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the acting majority leader. If Republicans are serious about making a change, the choice will have to be Boehner.


[Blunt’s] ties to DeLay, having begun his leadership career as DeLay’s protege and having been named by DeLay as a deputy whip in 1999, are a definite drawback. His election to DeLay’s former post could provide plenty of cause for the American public to question just how seriously Republicans are taking “reform.”

What’s interesting is that Blunt and Boehner are basically running on the same message: Blunt is the candidate of the House Republican Establishment and Boehner is an outsider. The latter will almost certainly have more resonance with the American public. Only time will tell which will have more appeal to their Caucus.

Update (1/11): Kevin Aylward has been getting the same mailings. And here I thought I was special.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Patrick McGuire says:

    From what I understand, Mr. Blunt had the position at one time but lost it, I believe to Tom DeLay. Assuming that is correct, I would rather draft a new player than call up the second string backup.

  2. legion says:

    I thought I read somewhere that Blunt was also under investigation for possibly being tied up in DeLay’s funding business…
    It would be most… interesting if the guy DeLay gets replaced by had to also step down from an indictment.

  3. McGehee says:

    It would be most… interesting if the guy DeLay gets replaced by had to also step down from an indictment.

    Except that Ronnie Earle has no jurisdiction over anything Blunt does, so I doubt that would happen.

  4. legion says:

    Well, obviously not the _same_ indictment. But there’s a cloud over Blunt nontheless.

    I don’t know how likely a Missouri DA is to dig into this, but then I never expected a Texas DA to go after DeLay either…