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Boehner likely to keep speakership

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

WASHINGTON — When Republicans chose John Boehner as House speaker two years ago, the former plastics salesman who had served two decades in Congress finally had the job he wanted.

Trouble was, he couldn't have picked a worse time.

That reality played out again late New Year's Day, when Boehner suffered a stinging rebuke as his rambunctious Tea Party-inspired majority — more conservative and less willing to compromise than he is — abandoned their leader on the “fiscal cliff” deal.

Boehner voted yes, but the majority of his majority and even his top two lieutenants voted no. If conventional wisdom held, the speaker's tenure would be finished.

But Boehner is expected to be re-elected on Thursday by a still rebellious Republican majority. Like the political disarray within the Republican Party nationally, the GOP ranks in the House are similarly divided. The lack of a challenger with a clear line of ascent all but ensures he will keep his dream job.

Influential Republican activists agitate for change, and up-and-comers in Congress muse aloud about a run. Yet no one else in the House leadership, most notably the No. 2 Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, has stepped up.

Would-be challengers are reluctant to aim for the speaker's job — and miss. Nor are they eager to take on a line of work that has proven extremely difficult.

“Who wants his job right now?” said strategist Ron Bonjean. “No one wants to take his place.”

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