US Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) unexpectedly announced last week that he’ll be retiring from Congress.
The move comes 25 years after he was first elected to the 8th congressional district in the Buckeye State, and has been causing a major stir among colleagues and detractors alike.
Effective November 1st, Boehner will also relinquish his duties as Speaker of the House, the latest blow to Sheldon Adelson’s quest to outlaw online casinos in the United States. Boehner and the billionaire gambling tycoon have enjoyed a long friendship, with the politician often speaking at Adelson events, including this year’s Republican Jewish Coalition Spring Leadership Meeting.
A steadfast opponent to Internet gambling, Boehner received $80,600 from Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. during his last two election cycles, and Adelson has already given $647,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee this year alone.
Losing one of his most powerful GOP allies is certainly yet another drawback in Adleson’s often stumbling mission to place online gambling into prohibition, but Boehner’s expected successor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California), isn’t exactly pro-gambling either.
McCarthy Favored by Republicans
The five-term congressman is the preferred pick to replace Boehner in the chief House position, and would join Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) in Golden State lawmakers holding both the majority and minority principal chairs.
Three bills were introduced in the Sacramento legislature this year to legalize online poker, and PokerStars sent Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, and Chris Moneymaker on a statewide tour to spread awareness of the effectiveness of a regulated industry.
But McCarthy remains unconvinced. Though he’s not an outspoken critic of legalizing iGambling, he has questioned why states would be involved with regulating online betting.
The glaring concern for Adelson and his cohorts targeting the practice is that McCarthy didn’t sign HR 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), when Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced the legislation last February.
RAWA would outlaw all forms of Internet betting federally, and is being pushed by Adelson in Washington by enticing politicians with campaign contributions. Chaffetz attracted 21 Republicans and three Democrats to cosponsor RAWA, though none from McCarthy’s home state of California.
Blood, Sweat, No Tears
The GOP establishment is rumored to be looking for a more dedicated conservative, one who is bolder than Boehner.
“We need a new speaker who can stand up to the president,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) told CNN.
Boehner became infamous for tearing up when he assumed the speakership in 2010, later telling Brian Williams “it’s who I am.” Currently in the midst of an identity crisis as the debate cycle has focused more on personal attacks than policy, the GOP brass are seeking a resolute leader to guide the party into the critical 2016 election year.
McCarthy says he’s that person, tweeting that he wants “to work with my colleagues and make the case to the American people for conservative principles.” Should Adelson be able to persuade McCarthy to join his cause, a more forceful House leader could have some impact on RAWA’s potential passage.
Adelson is also apparently leaning towards supporting Florida Senator Marco Rubio for president, giving his primary and general election campaign fund the maximum $2,700 each. Of course, that’s chump change to Adelson, who spent over $93 million during the 2012 presidential election.
Picking Boehner’s replacement might be marketed as a decision that will be settled by elected lawmakers, but GOP mega donors will also presumably have their say. RAWA’s future may not hang decidely in the balance, but it could slightly tip the scales one way or the other.