It’s only been done once since the Civil War, but that isn’t stopping J.D. Winteregg.
Winteregg, an Ohio high school French teacher turned tea party advocate, is attempting an electoral coup d’état of Speaker of the House John Boehner, who has held his seat in Congress since 1991.
“He’s been here since I was 8 years old,” Winteregg, 32, said in an interview today with ABC News. “He’s so far out of touch. We need someone in there who is friends with the business owners and understands the pain they feel.”
The tea party candidate launched his bid in October and filed his paperwork in January to challenge Boehner in the Republican primary in May.
“You look at the Republican brand they have right now — it’s old, white and out of touch,” Winteregg said. “I’m a fresh face, I’m young, I’ve got the enthusiasm and I can help turn that brand around.”
But with the primary less than two months away, Winteregg faces an uphill battle against Boehner’s strong name recognition and fundraising ability.
Boehner, who has drawn the ire of tea party groups in the past, has been increasingly vocal in his criticism of outside conservative groups trying to influence elections. He has said the organizations were “misleading their followers.”
Boehner has announced his intention to remain in his role as speaker after the midterm elections and has dismissed the calls for him to step aside. Still, he remains one of the top punching bags in the Republican establishment.
“Nobody’s saying that this is going to be easy,” said Rusty Humphries of the Tea Party Leadership Fund, which endorsed Winteregg and is helping his campaign.
“John Boehner has 100 percent name recognition. [Winteregg] does not. We’re going to fight for him though,” he said.
Winteregg isn’t the only tea party hopeful vying for votes in the primary election. Two others — Eric Gurr and Matthew Ashworth — have also filed paperwork in the 8th District of Ohio.
Winteregg spoke out against Boehner’s vote on raising the debt ceiling and his support for immigration reform. He even took a jab at Boehner’s claim that he mows his own lawn.
“None of us believe that. None of us do,” Winteregg said. Boehner “lives on a golf course, so I’d imagine it’s taken care of for him.”
Humphries said that Winteregg reminded him of Boehner in the early 1990s.
“There was another guy I remember who was as young, as hungry and as sharp as this guy about 24 years ago. His name was John Boehner,” Humphries said. “We don’t hate John Boehner; he’s a good guy. He’s just not the same John Boehner he was.”
Winteregg said his odds of winning are good, but history hasn’t been kind to candidates like him.
A sitting speaker has never been defeated in a primary election. Speaker Galusha Grow was defeated in a general election in 1862 and Speaker Tom Foley was defeated in a general election in 1994.
“I see what the sentiment is and right now they’re just starving for someone to believe in and I’m that guy they can believe in,” Winteregg said. “It’s doable. It’s definitely doable.”
A Boehner spokesperson declined comment.