Given the White House’s intransigence in “fiscal cliff” negotiations–Obama has not even bothered to offer a new proposal with time running out–Boehner could make a powerful statement by resigning: he would show the nation there is no one who can work with a president determined to undermine his negotiating partner.

Here are some of the possible front-runners, were Boehner to resign or face a serious challenge in a secret ballot:

Eric Cantor: The House Majority Leader wasonce  favored by some conservatives over Boehner for the Speaker’s post. In 2009, he achieved the critical task of uniting House Republicans against Obama’s stimulus (a.k.a. “porkulus”) legislation.

Paul Ryan: Arguably the most respected member of the House among Republicans today, and the only chair of a committee (Budget) to have received a term-limit waiver, Ryan could likely stage a successful campaign for the Speaker’s gavel.

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