WASHINGTON – Speaker John Boehner's tenure as the top House Republican has not been smooth. He has sparred with a combative Democratic president and a Democratic Senate. He has been attacked by conservatives in his own party who think him insufficiently ideological, and he has had to deal with constant rumors that his top lieutenant, Eric Cantor, is plotting to steal his speakership.
But Boehner's latest challenge is more direct, a full-on assault from Tea Party activists in his Ohio congressional district, where he faces three challengers in a May 6 primary.
One of those is a young high school French teacher named J.D. Winteregg, who is getting support from a national organization that has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertisements, billboards and direct mail aimed at the House speaker.
"I'm fed up with him. I'm fed up with the fact that he's never home, fed up with the fact that he's never accessible," Winteregg, 32, said in an interview. "It's rare that I meet someone that's for Boehner. The first thing they usually say is, 'He's been there too long.' And the second thing they say is, 'Let's throw all the bums out.' "
Winteregg, who has never sought elected office, has raised just $43,000 for his campaign, less than 1 percent of the $5.5 million Boehner has raised. But the outside group, The Tea Party Leadership Fund, has spent nearly $320,000 on opposing Boehner and backing Winteregg. The group's chairman, radio host Rusty Humphries, said they interviewed a number of candidates before deciding to back Winteregg.