Bachmann’s Doomed Power Play

November 9th, 2010 at 11:49 pm | 40 Comments |

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Tea Party Republican Michele Bachmann is making waves in her bid for a Republican Conference Chair, the number four spot in the House leadership, but the numbers don’t add up for her success.

The Republicans will have at least 240 seats at the beginning of the next session of Congress, and there are even more seats undergoing a recount that will likely swing to them. So the magic number for election is likely to be around 120 votes.

Hotline on Call reports that incumbent Reps. Louie Gohmert, Steve King, John Kline and Erik Paulsen have committed to supporting Bachmann (see Hotline’s running whip count here). Further, Rep. Michele Bachmann can probably count on many of the votes of the tea party caucus – 52 members as of July 21st, according to Bachmann’s website. A few of these however – Todd Tiahrt, Pete Hoekstra, Jerry Moran, John Shadegg – have moved on and will no longer be in Congress.

If Bachmann doesn’t hold the tea party caucus – her key constituency in this election – she doesn’t stand a chance. Departing Conference Chair and tea party caucus member Mike Pence may have already ended Bachmann’s hopes by declaring Bachmann’s opponent, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, to be his choice. Paul Broun, also a tea party caucus member, has declared for Hensarling as well.

Bachmann’s competitive advantage in almost any other leadership race would be her constitutional conservative, tea party bona fides. But Hensarling’s record in office cuts this advantage down significantly. Although Bachmann is better known nationally, Hensarling’s voting record is actually slightly more conservative by some measures. The National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have all rated Hensarling higher than Bachmann in their rankings for 2009.

‘Establishment’ Republicans are backing Rep. Jeb Hensarling: influential members Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Jason Chaffetz have all declared their support for him. This, combined with the tea party votes that can be siphoned off by the argument that Hensarling is more conservative, means that a Bachmann win is unlikely.

One Republican strategist told FrumForum that the big unknown is how incoming freshmen will vote, especially since so many of them have been elected on anti-establishment, tea party candidacies. Bachmann told Politico today that she has the support of incoming freshman Chip Cravaack, for example.

Let’s say that Bachmann gets almost all of the existing members of the tea party caucus to back her – about forty-five votes. Where do the other seventy-five votes come from? If she gets half of incoming freshmen, she’s still forty-five votes short.

One senior Republican aide tells FrumForum that Rep. Jeb Hensarling is rumored to have a list of one hundred votes committed to him already. Hensarling’s staff has not yet responded to a request for comment, and FrumForum has not been able to independently verify it. However, if this were true, this would mean that nearly every undecided congressman would need to break for Bachmann – a tall order indeed.

On the other hand, it is possible that the Conference Chair vote expected to happen on November 17th may not happen at all. There is some talk on the Hill of a compromise that would see Bachmann being offered the position of NRCC Vice-Chair, a position that would allow the congresswoman to help incoming tea party freshmen acclimatize to the Hill and plan for re-election in 2012.

Bachmann’s best option at this point may be to work for this sort of compromise. With tea partiers like Pence and Broun already breaking for Hensarling, it looks like she won’t be able to garner the level of support within her core constituency that she needs to win the battle for Conference Chair – the numbers just don’t add up.

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40 Comments so far ↓

  • busboy33

    You’re missing the actual point of all this. She’s not trying to get the job . . . she’s trying to get shut down. Then she gets lots and lots of media, and she can play the “poor nice 9kinda) pretty lady getting beat up on by those big mean fat-cat politicians because she’s so good and dow-home-ey” card for another few years.

    In other words, she’s pulling a Palin.

    That cements her in the TeaParty public hierarchy as a “face”. She’s got book deals, speaking fees, endorsements, maybe a radio show, and so forth. Again, pulling a Palin. The TeaParty isn’t a means to wield political power — its a means to earn her spot on Dancing With the Stars.

  • westony

    When are these people going to talk about Jobs and the economy? And…what has Bachmann done for her District. I never hear one word about her accomplishments. Other than lying all over the TEEVEEE and standing infront of the Tea Party waving the Constitution. What has she done?

  • PracticalGirl

    It’s the Crazy Caucus vs the Young Guns. I wish this weren’t my country hanging in the balance-this would make such great theater.

  • pnumi2


    “Bachmann’s best option at this point may be to work for this sort of compromise.”

    Au contraire. Her best option is to take her 45 Tea Party lite Congresspeople and BOLT the GOP. She could vote with the Republicans to organize the House and after that she would be Queen of the Litter Box. Depending on how many of the late counts the GOP gets — and some of them probably will be Tea Party sympathizers — she could stymie the GOP at every turn. Of course, the Democrats would be tripping all over themselves not to offend or annoy her.

    But she’d have to grow another and a different pair to pull it off.

  • sinz54

    Michele Bachmann does have one advantage: The desire of the GOP to broaden (no pun intended) its appeal among women.

    If she loses, then the entire leadership of the GOP in Congress will be male, and you can expect the Dems to make hay over that.

    So there is an argument to be made that a more diverse GOP leadership would help them.

  • CD-Host

    pnumi2 –
    Why are you addressing this to me? I didn’t say anything on this thread.

    Anyway, I agree the caucus is much more important than conference chair. If she get the Tea Party caucus to refuse to vote for stuff that hasn’t gone through the caucus since they don’t have representation. Given the fact that Democrats won’t support Boehner that’s going to be enough that she’s going to have to get a seat at the table, an important seat. Hensarling wins the election but has no actual power. For Hensarling to win the trust of the Tea party he’s going to need to oppose the establishment.

    The Republican party is used to treating representatives as disempowered individuals not as empowered interest groups For the same reason I think its good for Democrats to back Steny Hoyer I think it is good for Republicans to back Bachmann or someone like her. You do not want to create a leadership which does not have the support of the population and the Republican party in the house may be doing that.

  • noufa

    “The TeaParty isn’t a means to wield political power — its a means to earn her spot on Dancing With the Stars.”

    You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Bachmann has been hated ever since she first ran for state congress. How many millions of dollars have Democrats thrown at her opponents? They even attempted to re-district her into oblivion. She has defended herself for a decade & has yet to lose an election. Her ideas may be repulsive to you, but she is quite serious about them.

    You think she cares if you call her an attention whore? You’re the one who looks stupid, not her.

  • medinnus

    “Michele Bachmann does have one advantage: The desire of the GOP to broaden (no pun intended) its appeal among women.”

    Sorry, Pun Taken.

    “If she loses, then the entire leadership of the GOP in Congress will be male, and you can expect the Dems to make hay over that.”

    When. When she loses. Then she can play both the “I’m an outsider against the GOP Establishment AND the Dems” card for personal and political gain, and then if/when the Dems play the “No women” card, both Bachmann and Palin get to play propaganda “Mama Grizzly” cards.

    Bachmann wins any which way.

    So there is an argument to be made that a more diverse GOP leadership would help them.

  • Tim Mak

    I keep hearing that House leadership will be without women if Bachmann is not elected. Totally untrue. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is running – so far uncontested – to be Conference Vice-Chair.

  • wfisher

    Machele is the best candidate in terms of political openess, honesty, courage. How disappointing it is that the Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul already defend earmarks and do not support Michele. We still have old and new rinos to clean at the next opportunity. These are not “moderates” – these are rinos who betray basic honesty and ethics. All GOP problems have always been caused by the same hermaphrodite species. (Don’t ever forget the “maverick” rino McCain election that started America disaster. Also pay attention to idiotic statements of his daughter). Romney is probably one of the weakest presidential candidates with bankruptcy record of his Massachusetts state-financed “health care”. The litmus test of voters honesty has not been passed neither by Rand Paul nor Scott Brown – both owning their wins to the Tea Party and both now cunningly running away from the association.

  • pnumi2

    If Bachman could live without the perks of being in the leadership of the majority party in the House, she could make a name for herself and the Tea Party. By leading the Tea Party to stand against the GOP when they relapsed into ‘business as usual’, and yoting nay with the Democrats, the hopes of those who support the Tea Party would be realized. The going would be tough for her for a year or so, but holding the Republicans to their word on taxes, spending, the deficit, etc., the Tea Party should increase their numbers in 2012. And she’d increase her power and influence.

    Leadership is required for this, not just sound bites.

  • Diomedes

    Michele Bachmann does have one advantage: The desire of the GOP to broaden (no pun intended) its appeal among women.

    Then the GOP needs to begin putting forward women of substance, not vacuous airheards like Bachmann or Palin.

    I am sorry, but parading around women like that reaffirms the age old stereotype that women are just supposed to be smiles and pretty faces.

    If the GOP is serious about courting the women vote, then they need to emerge from their bubble and realize that not all women sit at home watching soaps. Many are educated with degrees. (From real universities, not one founded by Oral Roberts)

  • armstp

    I hope Michele Bachmann accends to a leadership position. She will just be another idiot who will be easy for the Dems to compete with.

    However, it does are country no good, as she is all politics all the time and not at all interested in solving the problems of this country.

  • wfisher

    armstp, do your REALLY believe that you can find a bigger idiot than Barack Hussein Obama and that the dems can ascend about an idiot level?

    diomedes; “watching soaps”, “real universities” ? – what a bathetic, elitist baloney…

  • PracticalGirl


    Yep. The financial news today of a relatively healthy, profitable GM (courtesy of all the real work done by the Obama administration in cooperation with GM) shows just what sort of idiot Barack Hussein Obama is. He turned Bush’s bailout-to-nowhere into a 200,000 + jobs-saving program, got union concessions (UAW took on HALF of GM’s debt), and will get at least some of the money back for the American people.

    Whining Bachmann? Against it from the start, but of course will try to take credit for the turnaround for the Tea Party and herself.

    I’ll take a Muslim Socialist, in the pocket of Big Labor, who can get things done any day of the week over the whinings of the Tea Partiers. And in 2012? So will the smart American people.

  • TerryF98

    Wow the redstate trolls are out in force on this one. The Bachman internet police must have alerted them.

    Hey trolls watch out or you will be in a FEMA interment camp before you can say “ACORN”

  • wfisher

    Impractical girl, thank God about 60% of Americans stay sober.

  • pnumi2


    “However, it does are country no good, as she is all politics all the time and not at all interested in solving the problems of this country.”

    In this respect, she is like 90% of the Senate and House.

    By declining any crumbs from the Republican establishment in the House, she can mold the young Tea Party into a major factor on the American Political scene. But if she goes for a gavel and corner office, the Tea Party’s influence probably will be aborted, as she promotes the MO of the GOP to the new TP Congressmen.

    Remember that Sarah Palin is the titular head (npi) of the Tea Party movement, and I shouldn’t be surprised to learn that there is no love lost between her and Bachmann. After all, attractive women like these two, probably see nothing but the flaws of the other and, like their male counterparts, are very competitive.

    Bachmann’s success in steering the Tea Party could lead her to a desirable double play: molding the TP people in her own image and ousting Palin from her position of dominance in the media and, by extension, on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’

  • wfisher

    Impractical girl, thank God about 60% of Americans stay sober. Obviously personal freedom and liberty means little to impractical girls. Wake up, nothing is about “taking credit”, we should do everything to save America as the only freedom hope for this world.

  • wfisher

    terryF98, just vulgar name calling – that’s your “debate”? By the way it’s the uber-left bloggers who are paid by nazi-informer George Soros.

  • Diomedes

    thank God about 60% of Americans stay sober.

    And the rest are registered Republicans. “Watching Nascar and drinkin’ beer!” :-D

  • TerryF98

    wfisher, you are so funny. Hilarious in fact. Is english your first language?

  • wfisher

    Terry98 – again, is this your only debate argument?

  • TerryF98

    wfisher said


    “armstp, do your REALLY believe that you can find a bigger idiot than Barack Hussein Obama and that the dems can ascend about an idiot level?”

    And you talk about vulgar name calling! So funny :-) :-) :-)

  • PracticalGirl


    “…we should do everything to save America..”

    You and Barack Hussein Obama think alike. If you had the cojones (as Miss Wasilla might say) to take a peek at real news, you would see that the nasty bullshit of the last 2 years didn’t deter the President from doing the right thing…And doing it very well, in this case.

    A simple thank you from you would suffice.

  • wfisher

    terrryF98, just re-used the epithet used to describe Michele

    impractical girl, “thank you ” for taking away our freedom & liberties?

  • wfisher

    diomedes, re. Nascar and beer, do your homework, research clearly shows that Tea Party supporters are much better educated than an average American……

  • armstp


    Obama is far from an idiot. Obama is working 24 hours to try and solve the problems of this country and so far he is doing a pretty good job given the shit sandwich he was handed by Bush.

    He stabilized the financial system, he stopped the hemoraging of jobs, over 1.0 million private sector jobs created so far in 2010, the stock and bond markets are up signficantly, he saved a major part of the industrial base of this country, the auto sector, he pushed through the largest piece of healthcare reform in generations which will put more than 30 million people in insurance and help reduce the debt and deficit, he has improved border security, he pushed through much need financial reform, which will help to stop another financial meltdown, he is getting the U.S. out of Iraq, he is set a time table for Afghanistan, etc. etc.

    All this and more in just a very short 18 months. Hardly the workings of an idiot. By the way what exactly has Bachman done in the last 18 months? Can you give me just one of her achievements that has helped this country move forward?

  • Diomedes

    do your homework, research clearly shows that Tea Party supporters are much better educated than an average American……

    Are they now? Well, let’s just Google that, shall we?

    Based on their tax ‘knowledge’, which is allegedly the cornerstone of their doctrine, they seem to know very little.

    Not sure about the racism claims though. When Tea Party folks were asked about race, their response was: “Indianapolis or Daytona?”

    Wah wah waaaaaahh

    P.S. Yes, I know I am feeding a troll. But it is amusing from time to time.

  • wfisher

    armstp, the world is laughing at Hussein Obama’s “successes”. If only you could be as critical to him as you are to President Bush.

    diomedes, if Bruce Bartlett is your “objective” source (that funny link above) – congrats. Debating ineptness is, among other nonsenses, name calling, you resort to it when the facts contradict your outrageous believes (shared, by max. 10 % of people in America, mostly illegals).

  • easton

    diomedes, yeah, dinna feed the troll. The guy is obviously an out of control schmuck who thinks assertion is argument. Take a look, he has made no intelligible argument, one based on facts and not opinions. wfisher, go back to the primordial rock of the far right wing and leave intelligent arguments for people with brains.

    Bachmann is a frightening looking woman with psycho eyes, I wonder what is in the water up there?

    Less dingbattery, more genuine, thoughtful conservatism please.

  • wfisher

    easton, you are certainly the “people with brains”, you are not quite a humble person and as such you REALLY THRIVE ON NAME CALLING. “schmuck”, “troll” – very brainly indeed.

  • TerryF98

    I am certain wfisher is communist-basher in disguise. Same eastern European syntax and way of “talking”

    Please ignore.

  • easton

    yeah TerryF98, you are right. You and I disagree about quite a lot, but at least you actually make arguments affirming your position. I simply can’t stand these brain dead idiots claiming to be Conservatives but couldn’t coherently define exactly what Conservative positions are or why they would be effective. It is such an embarrassment.

    one thing I can’t help: very brainly indeed. BRAINLY? That is not a word in any language. Normally I don’t care about spelling and grammar, but when you mock the intelligence of someone else, at least get the words right.

  • wfisher

    easton, “brain dead idiots” , “psycho”- quite civilized and quite “conservative”. Don’t have any other criticism, except “brainly”?

  • wfisher

    TerryF98, why “in disguise”? Aren’t you in disguise using “TerryF98″? Sure, you are so superior to those “East Europeans”….

  • easton

    wfisher, you don’t make any arguments, you simply make assertions. I have no time for such stupidity. I have laid out a plan in detail how to achieve full Social Security privatization. I have also laid out how to do Medicare vouchers starting today (not 2020). I am for school vouchers, am pro-life, etc. But I present arguments laying this stuff out, I use data, legal precedents, history, etc. to do so.

    Bachmann is a dingbat. That is obvious to most people. She will never achieve any higher office than Representative and within the Republican caucus she won’t achieve any high position. In her years of Congress she has sponsored and passed nothing.

    You can worship ineffectual Congress people all you want. Effective lawmaking is the only measurement that matters, not how many times you can be on Fox. Now either make intelligent arguments or go off Freerepublic where everyone agrees with each other and no one says anything real.

  • easton

    oops, typo. go off to Freerepublic….

  • wfisher

    Easton, I have never called you idiot, nor psycho nor schmuck nor troll. I love what you have accomplished and most of your believes. Our country needs expertise like yours. But the more I am shocked that someone like you can PUBLICLY use such language. Now back to a civilized (please…) DEBATE. What assertions and not arguments have I used?