- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

After conducting a search and straw poll, a national tea party group has settled on a Republican primary challenger to House Speaker John A. Boehner, picking high school teacher J.D. Winteregg to carry the tea party banner in the intraparty battle.

The announcement, which the Tea Party Leadership Fund (TPLF) will make Wednesday, could help Mr. Winteregg gain attention in a field dominated by Mr. Boehner and his massive campaign bank account. Mr. Winteregg is one of several men running against Mr. Boehner in the GOP primary in the speaker’s western Ohio district.

Rusty Humphries with the TPLF, a political action committee, said Mr. Boehner has failed to follow through on conservative goals during his time as speaker.

“This is a guy that has allowed spending to increase. This is a guy that fought for benefits for congressmen while at the same time fighting to cut benefits for our veterans,” Mr. Humphries said.

Mr. Boehner has been under fire from tea party groups over last year’s budget deal, which boosted spending in 2014 and 2015, and for this month’s debt vote, when he allowed a 13-month debt increase to pass without conditions on the strength of Democratic votes.

Mr. Humphries said voters in the district itself are ready to dump Mr. Boehner, who is serving his 12th term in Congress — and second as speaker.

“The one thing I found a lot when I was in the district is how few people have seen him in the district in a long time,” Mr. Humphries said. “This is a guy who has not kept up with his people.”

But a campaign aide for Mr. Boehner said he’s still well-connected to Ohio’s 8th congressional district.

John and his wife Debbie still live in Butler County and call it home. They made that choice — and stuck with it, even when he became speaker — because it was important to them to remain part of the community that has always been central to his service in the House,” the aide said.

As for the policy fights, the speaker had said he wouldn’t allow another government shutdown or default on federal obligations — either of which could have resulted from the failure to pass a budget or a debt increase. Mr. Boehner has argued that the 2014 election will be fought over President Obama’s agenda, including his health care law.

Mr. Humphries said the Tea Party Leadership Fund will post billboards and run radio commercials aiding Mr. Winteregg, and said the more money people donate to the leadership fund, the more will be targeted to ousting Mr. Boehner.

Unseating top party leaders is rare.

Mr. Humphries has been signed to write a column for The Washington Times, which has not yet debuted.

Two years ago Mr. Boehner easily saw off another tea party challenger, defeating pro-life activist David Lewis with 84 percent to Mr. Lewis’s 16 percent.

The No. 2 Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is also facing a primary challenge. Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, is challenging the Virginia Republican, arguing his support for passing an immigration bill is kowtowing to big-business interests.

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