Boehner Re-elected Speaker...Barely

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I'm fairly sure that this was a foregone conclusion, but I suspect that Cryin' John might have a lump or two in his throat before it was confirmed.

Following a bruising first two years as speaker and leader of House Republicans, 10 conservative lawmakers cast votes for someone other than Boehner during a roll call vote in the first hours of the new Congress. Several other conservative Republicans abstained from voting. Boehner received 220 votes of a total of 426 cast.

While Boehner won re-election to the speakership with the overwhelming support of the GOP, he also narrowly avoided the 16 total defections from fellow Republicans that would have triggered a second ballot of House lawmakers on electing a speaker. That would have been the first time a second ballot was needed since 1923, and a mild embarrassment for Boehner.

The biggest slap in the face? Three votes went to crazy tea party mouthpiece Allen West, who is no longer even in the House, having lost his seat to Patrick Murphy. After the fiscal "cliff" debacle, where it looked as if Boehner had lost control of his party, rumblings of challenging his speakership started getting leaked to the press. Eric Cantor, second in command of the House GOP, looked like the man most likely to shiv Boehner to take his place, but as NBC's Domenico Montanaro remarks, Cantor may have lost this battle, but he's playing a long game.

It isn’t a coup against Boehner. It shows that Boehner sees the light at the end of the tunnel of his career and would prefer to be more of a pragmatist and deal maker – but his conference won’t allow him to be that. That pragmatic streak is in the minority of the House GOP.

Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, on the other hand, are going to be around for a while, and if they want to be leaders of the conference in the House, perhaps even speaker, and want to have any political clout, they have to stand with the influential conservative base.

Cantor has stood with Boehner through much of this fight and others in the past year, and that’s because he cannot alienate Boehner allies. Many establishment conservative will still be around – and be a significant voting bloc – when Boehner retires, whenever that will be.

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