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Valley Public Radio Staff
It's All Politics
Sat May 3, 2014
John Boehner Faces A Primary Challenge, But Only Barely
Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 5:21 pm
Let's stipulate that Speaker John Boehner doesn't really have to worry about his Republican primary challengers Tuesday.
He's raised close to $13 million to date. None of his GOP foes have raised even $50,000.
Despite conservative unrest surrounding his leadership, there isn't much sign of it back home in Boehner's Cincinnati-area district. His opponents are largely unknown and in the 2012 Republican primary, the speaker won a landslide 84 percent of the vote against a Tea Party challenger.
Boehner ran even better in November — Democrats failed to field a candidate and the speaker won 99.2 percent. That kind of percentage is usually only seen in dictatorships.
Boehner was so confident in 2012, he didn't even run an ad. This year, the 12-termer isn't taking any chances - he's already aired one ad.
It wasn't a particularly memorable one, mind you, just unidentified people saying positive things about the speaker to the camera. "John Boehner is fighting for people like us, working families," says a toddler-toting woman, accompanied by a man and a grade-schooler, a picture perfect family-friendly tableau.
Family-friendly isn't how you'd describe the memorable campaign ad of a Boehner challenger. That viral, web-only spot — which played off TV commercials for virility products and a well-known mispronunciation of Boehner's name — accused the speaker of causing "electile dysfunction."
The candidate behind it, J.D. Winteregg, is a high school and college French teacher and Tea Party member who has accused Boehner of being a creature of Washington (which you pretty much have to be by definition to become House speaker).
The ad got Winteregg noticed, which was the point. Unfortunately for him, among those noticing it were the administrators at the small Christian school where he worked until recently as an adjunct professor. The school didn't appreciate the foray into partisan politics or the ad's tone and message; Winteregg was informed his services were no longer needed.
Along with Winteregg, Boehner also faces another Tea Party challenger, Eric Gurr, a computer consultant. The speaker at one point had three Tea Party challengers but Matthew Ashworth dropped out and threw his support, for what it was worth, to Gurr.
In a heavily Republican district that gave 62 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney, Tuesday's election is really the only one that matters for Boehner. And yet it doesn't really.