WASHINGTON – "Christmas came early," was the dry but joyous first reaction of former Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas.
"Speaker Boehner correctly read the tea leaves," was the succinct summation of former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
Advertisement - story continues below
As leading conservatives, Bachmann and Stockman often locked horns with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who told fellow Republicans on Friday morning he will resign from Congress at the end of October.
He exits as the least popular speaker of the House in three decades.
"The people no longer wanted what he had to sell: being told yet again that he couldn't, or wouldn't, fight Obama," Bachmann told WND. "People wouldn't stand for that answer anymore because too much is at risk for America."
She asserted, "The decision today from Boehner tells me people are fighting back so loudly, the status quo is crumbling in D.C."
Advertisement - story continues below
But, as for a likely replacement, Bachmann lamented, "Unfortunately, a Speaker McCarthy represents more of the same."
Next in line in the power structure, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was immediately viewed as Boehner's likely successor. He is considered part of the GOP establishment, often at odds with House conservatives who want to fight Obama administration efforts more vigorously.
Talk-show host Mark Levin called upon conservatives to fight McCarthy's ascent to the top spot, scathingly telling Breitbart, "Kevin McCarthy is Eric Cantor with 10 less IQ points."
"We need leaders who are solid, who are intelligent, who are strategic, who are constitutionalists, who can bring in — not just the mainstay of the party — but demonstrate to millions of us in the grassroots that the message has finally been received."
Advertisement - story continues below
Levin called for "a serious effort — not just a PR effort — but a serious effort to try to govern and keep the president in check—that they are prepared to fight, prepared to show courage, and that they're going to stop cutting deals with the inside-the-beltway crowd."
He added, "I've been pushing very hard for the replacement of this leadership, not just to save the Republican Party, but to save the Republic itself against an out-of-control president."
Conservatives attempted to oust Boehner during speaker elections, held just after the historic landslide Republican victory in the House in the 2014 midterm election.
An aide to Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, reminded WND that "Mr. King started this fight" and the weakening of Boehner when he nominated Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., in January and got the most votes for him, out of all the no votes against the speaker.
Advertisement - story continues below
In July, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C, offered a motion to oust Boehner, a measure that still technically looms over the speaker's head, but apparently is now moot.
Meadows was gracious in his reaction to the news, releasing a statement that read, "Speaker Boehner has served honorably during a difficult time for Republicans when the threat of a veto from the White House constantly impedes our legislative agenda. At times I differed with Speaker Boehner on policy or procedural positions, but I commend him for his honorable service, his humility, his undeniable love for his country and his desire to serve this great nation."
"I look forward to an open and inclusive discussion as the House pursues new leadership," he added. "There are critically important issues the House must address in the coming months. It is of the utmost importance that our new leadership reflect the diverse makeup of the House Republican Conference and, ultimately, that the voices of the American people are heard through their elected representatives."
Equally gracious was Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, the group of conservative lawmakers who battled with Boehner over how to best stop the Obama agenda.
"I want to wish my friend and fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner, all the best on his decision to retire from Congress," said Jordan in a statement provided by his staff to WND.
"He served our state and nation for many years, and led House Republicans through an important time in our nation's history. I was especially glad that he was able to cap his distinguished career with the crowning achievement of bringing Pope Francis to Washington, D.C. for a speech to the joint session of Congress," added Jordan.
He concluded, "I have often said that Speaker Boehner had the toughest job in Washington, and though we disagreed at times, I continue to have the utmost respect for him as a colleague and a person."
As for the sudden race for a successor, Stockman quipped, "Let's see who pulls this off – hopefully not another liberal."
"As I said yesterday," he added, "when your allies are looking for the exit doors that's never a good sign."
That was a reference to WND's current story describing the great political dilemma Boehner had been facing: whether to defund Planned Parenthood in the upcoming budget bill or face a conservative revolt.
Stockman predicted Boehner will not go out with a bow to conservatives, suggesting, "His last act will be to stab us one more time in the back and pass with (House Minority Leader) Nancy (Pelosi, D-Calif.) a Democrat budget."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who often strategizes with House conservatives, told reporters, "I do hope that the next speaker of the House will stand up and lead, and will be a strong conservative, committed to honoring the promises we made to the men and women who elected us. For a long time, that's what I've been urging leadership in both houses to do."
Asked if he was pleased, the senator replied, "This has never been about one person. This is about whether Congress keeps its word to the men and women who elected us. Any speaker who does so, I will celebrate. And any Speaker who doesn't will not be doing his or her job."
And, asked whether he had any advice for his conservative colleagues in the House, Cruz reflected, "I hope that they select a strong conservative who will take seriously the promises we made to the men and women who elected us."
Speaking to the conservative crowd at the 10th annual Values Voter Summit in Washington Friday morning, Cruz quipped, "Yesterday, John Boehner was speaker of the House, and then you come to town."
After pausing for cheers and applause, Cruz added, "Can you come more often?"
The crowd had already erupted into a wild celebration when the news of Boehner's resignation was broken by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
After his initial quip, Cruz turned serious about future prospects, remarking, "I will say, the early reports are discouraging."
"If it is correct that the speaker, before he resigns, has cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to fund the Obama administration for the rest of its tenure, to fund Obamacare, to fund executive amnesty, to fund Planned Parenthood, to fund implementation of this Iran deal — and then, presumably, to land in a cushy K Street job after joining with the Democrats to implement all of President Obama's priorities, that is not the behavior one would expect of a Republican speaker of the House," admonished Cruz.
A staunch conservative who often battled Boehner, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said he had "nothing but best wishes for him," and, "I truly wish both him and his family well," but focused his statement primarily on what happens next.
"America is at an incredibly perilous time in our history; we need bold leadership more than ever, and the speaker now has graciously given us that opportunity."
He added, "Due in part to the massive shift in power away from the most accountable representatives of the people to a president and five judges, we have needed leadership with vision for the future that did not continue the downhill slide. A goal to simply slow the losses of liberty and opportunity is not what is needed."
"My fervent prayers are with the country at this defining moment. It's past time that we, as a body, stand firmly for those who are being oppressed by government and take up the torch of liberty to ensure this flame of freedom is not extinguished for the generations that follow us," Gohmert solemnly concluded.
Conservative Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., tweeted, "Speaker Boehner, we've had our differences, but I will miss you and our many heartfelt conversations in your office. Thank you for serving."
Other House conservatives cheered Boehner's departure.
"it's time for new leadership," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R- Kan.
Rep. Tom Massie, R-Ky., bluntly said Boehner "subverted our Republic."
"I think it was inevitable," he added. "This is a condition of his own making right here."
Establishment Republican Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., just as bluntly disagreed, saying, "The honor of John Boehner this morning stands in stark contrast to the idiocy of those members who seek to continually divide us."
"The House of Representatives is now tasked with electing a new speaker," said the conservative Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, looking to the future. "This is both a great opportunity and responsibility. Before electing a new speaker of the House, members need to hear from all candidates on their strategy for dealing with an obstinate president, vision for restoring the soul of America and ideas on adhering to regular order."
When she saw the news, former House Speaker Pelosi told her staff, "God knows what's next over there," according to the New York Times. "Coming from earthquake country, this is a big one," added the Democrat and current House minority leader.
"Too often, Speaker Boehner has stood in the way. Today's announcement is a sign that the voice of the American people is breaking through in Washington," Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said in a statement.
Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots was triumphant, exclaiming in a statement first sent to WND, "The media, and the political establishment said we wouldn't last. But Boehner is gone, and we are still here. Long live the tea party movement."
He added, "Today, with the announced retirement of John Boehner, we turn the page on five years of wasted conservative opportunity in the United States Congress. For five years, Speaker Boehner has heard loud and clear from the people who gave him a Republican majority that they wanted conservative leadership, and for five years, he has practiced surrender, capitulation, and compromise of conservative principles. Today, that wasted era of conservative opportunity comes to an end. This morning, the tea party movement celebrates"
And, Meckler warned the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., he could be next.
"We will not relent until principled, conservative leaders control both houses of Congress. Speaker Boehner is out, and now it's time to make sure conservative leadership is in. Hopefully this serves as a strong hint to Mitch McConnell. Time for him to fade into the sunset of his career, side by side with John Boehner. The tea party movement will continue to work to make that happen."
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth