House Minority Leader John Boehner won back his GOP leadership post on Wednesday, fighting off a challenge by conservative California Rep. Dan Lungren after the two engaged in an unusual activity -- a debate before the Republican caucus.
The outcome of the vote was not really in doubt -- several conservative members had expressed support for the moderate Boehner, saying he was put in the leadership during one of the most trying of eras for the GOP.
"The good thing about hitting rock bottom is there's nowhere to go but up," Tennessee Rep. Zach Wamp told FOX News before Wednesday's caucus vote.
Expressing support for the incumbent, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling said Boehner has had more of a problem with "followship" than leadership, and managed the caucus well in the campaign against earmarks.
But the symbolism of the closed-door Republican Leader Candidates' Forum, which was open to all GOP members and members-elect, and the fact that a vote was forced at all, is noteworthy.
Though buffeted by the loss of at least 53 House seats over the last two election cycles, Boehner is a formidable fundraiser and enjoys the advantages of already being in the post.
"To rebuild the party the energy has to come from us. And I will challenge all of you," he told the caucus after the vote.
In announcing the forum, Boehner and Lungren penned a joint notice to GOP members telling them of the importance of attending the debate.
"It's clear Republicans must find new ways to reconnect with the American people and address their priorities. This effort will require the commitment of every member of the House Republican team," they wrote.
While the leadership spot is the only post where presentations were made, the Republican leadership also was changing in other very noticeable ways.
The No. 2 House Republican, Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, announced he is stepping down after 10 years of trying to persuade colleagues to undertake chores they'd rather not.
Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, under consideration over the summer as one of John McCain's potential running mates, will take over as whip and be responsible for counting Republican noses on key legislation and corralling the team for votes.
California Rep. Kevin McCarthy succeeded Cantor as chief deputy whip, an appointed position.
Florida Rep. Adam Putnam was serving as the Republican Conference Chairman but announced shortly after the Nov. 4 election that he was "reluctantly" stepping down. Conservative Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, a powerhouse at rallying the base, is taking over as conference chairman and will preside over the difficult business of communicating the party's principles to its members and trying to keep them on-message.
Pence challenged Boehner for the top slot two years ago. Today, Boehner supported Pence for the No. 3 job.
Texas Rep. Pete Sessions won the chairmanship of the National Republican Campaign Committee, which helps to get party members elected, after its previous chairman Rep. Tom Cole withdrew from the race.
FOX News' James Rosen, Chad Pergram and Jessica Weinstein contributed to this report.