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Local GOP applauds Meadows role in speaker's demise

While it’s impossible to predict exactly how the leadership battle to replace House Speaker John Boehner will play out, one thing is clear. The speaker’s resignation, announced Friday morning, has vindicated the effort by U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows to remove the speaker and vaulted the second-term 11th District representative into a very powerful position.

It was Meadows — and Meadows alone — who filed the resolution that exposed the crumbling foundation of support for the speaker among his own caucus. Meadows and the Tea Party-oriented Freedom Caucus that he joined as a charter member have been trying to move the Republican leadership to the right on every issue from the Iran agreement to Planned Parenthood funding.

“I can’t confirm that he’s going to be in the top tier of leadership,” Deputy Chief of Staff Wayne King said. “Obviously this is not about Mark Meadows. This is about our country and about members from all over the country being heard and it sounds like their voices were heard in the speaker’s office.”
If the story is not about Meadows it certainly raises his profile and potentially his political capital to a new level. A political neophyte when he was first elected to Congress in 2012, Meadows had become a hero on the right for his willingness to put his career on the line and stand up to Boehner.

"Speaker Boehner has served honorably during a difficult time for Republicans when the threat of a veto from the White House constantly impedes our legislative agenda," he said in a statement. "At times I differed with Speaker Boehner on policy or procedural positions, but I commend him for his honorable service, his humility, his undeniable love for his country and his desire to serve this great nation.

"I look forward to an open and inclusive discussion as the House pursues new leadership," he added. "There are critically important issues the House must address in the coming months. It is of the utmost importance that our new leadership reflect the diverse makeup of the House Republican Conference and, ultimately, that the voices of the American people are heard through their elected representatives."

Meadows has said that he filed the motion to remove the speaker because of his growing frustration with Washington and his sense from voters, from the 11th District and across the country, that the Republican leadership is unresponsive to or incapable of advancing conservative values.
The tipping point seemed to come as Boehner tried unsuccessfully over the past weeks to broker a compromise to prevent a government shutdown amid vows from the conservative wing of his party to vote no on any budget that failed to defund Planned Parenthood.
“It’s been obvious for a while that the only way he was going to survive a speakership challenge was with votes from the Democratic Party, which would make him essentially powerless,” Robert Danos, a former chair of the Henderson County Republican Party, said of the House speaker.

Asked whether the resignation made Meadows more powerful, Danos said, “That would go without saying. In terms of Boehner stepping down, it shows he didn’t have enough votes among the Republican conference and Mark’s the one that brought that to everyone’s attention. It’s better to have clarity. You can’t be a useful speaker if you don’t have a majority of support in your own conference.”

Henderson County Sheriff Charlie McDonald said he liked Meadows when he first met him.

“I knew him before he was elected and the one thing that impressed right off the bat with Mark Meadows is I knew he was a man of principal and I knew when he went to Washington that he would represent the people’s interest even over his own," he said. "That’s something that I think a lot of Republicans are sick and tired of is the Republican guard that in a lot of cases may have gone to Washington with the best of intentions but they end up selling out I think for self-survival.

"Here’s what I like about Mark and I can identify with it. He’s there to do a job and whenever folks decide they don’t want him there he’s perfectly willing to go to the house but he’s not going to compromise his promises or his principles or his honor to stay elected and that’s the kind of people we need to hold political office.”

Henderson County Republican Party Chairman Glen Englram said local party leaders had move to officially support Meadows Thursday night.

“Last night at our executive committee meeting we actually passed a resolution in support of Mark’s own resolution,” he said. “We are behind Mark 100 percent so in that sense this is a step in the right direction. I think I go back to Mark’s resolution. The content of that resolution should trouble anyone regardless of their party registration. It lays out how the People’s House is supposed to work."

Englram said whether the conservative wing of the party is better off won't be known until a new speaker is chosen.

“We don’t know yet obviously who going to replace Mr. Boehner — whether it’s people working with him now, all of whom are sympathetic and aligned with John Boehner’s approach. My concern is that the new speaker might not be much different than John Boehner’s leadership in terms of how the House was led. I think there’s a lot more ball to be played here before we know the final score.”

If Meadows has a high profile, he won’t be universally admired for his role in the speaker's demise, Englram said.

“I’m sure there is going to be a continued level of antagonism toward Mark from some members,” he said. “Those that have been around for a while, they don’t like it when the newbie comes in and stirs things up. Even though Mark is in his second term, he’s very much not an establishment person. There’s no question that Mark is principled. Mark is courageous.”

Coincidentally, The Hill newspaper and website reported Friday that Boehner’s allies had sought to recruit a primary challenger to run against Meadows, although the story was filled with denials from two figures purportedly involved — Boehner allies Patrick McHenry and Virginia Foxx — and from Boehner’s office itself. With Boehner’s resignation it would appear that such an effort, if it ever existed, is now in the trash bin.