Worried about Boehner?

The fiscal cliff deal certainly gives you a good reason to worry about the U.S. House speaker’s ability to stick to conservative principles. But the latest issue of The Atlantic offers some hope, profiling Ted Yoho, one of the new U.S. House members who “promise to make John Boehner’s life even more hellish.”

As we hurtled down a two-lane highway en route to the lumber mill, Yoho told me he was not worried about offending his future colleagues. “Intimidating is going up to a growling Rottweiler and having to squeeze his anal glands, or going up to a stallion that weighs 1,200 pounds and telling him you’re going to take his testicles off,” he said from behind the wheel of his Ford Excursion. “That’s intimidating. I think I can handle Congress.”

Yoho sells himself as a regular working guy: someone who met his wife in fourth grade, got married as a teenager, bought a trailer home, and started his own veterinary business. When he announced his candidacy last February, he had just 6 percent name recognition. Though he’d upped that to 66 percent by the time I visited, he was far from a household name.

“I don’t know how you expect to win with a name like Yoho,” said Lee Childers, a sales manager at the lumber mill. “I had to look you up to make sure you weren’t a Jap.” Yoho laughed. He told me later that he’d added his photo to campaign bumper stickers to clear up any confusion about his ethnicity.

After the roundtable, heading back to his house-cum-campaign-headquarters, Yoho asked me, “Did everything I said back there make sense? Was everything I said right?” When the conversation turned to committees he might join in the House, he said he hadn’t given it much thought. I suggested Agriculture, given his background. “Sure, I could see myself on Agriculture,” he said. “I’m not really sure about what that process looks like.” He mentioned the Republican Study Committee, a caucus made up of the most-conservative House members that aims, in part, to pull party leadership to the right. …

… “With all the problems we are having, I won’t be afraid to tell leadership, ‘You need to explain to me why I should follow you anywhere,’ ” he told me, adding that, unlike two-thirds of last year’s freshmen, he would never have voted to raise the debt ceiling. “I think I scare them to death.”

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