Rep. Raul Labrador, a member of the House GOP's Tea Party-heavy Class of 2010, will challenge Rep. Kevin McCarthy for the House Majority Leader position now that Eric Cantor is stepping down. Referring to Cantor's loss in his primary earlier this week, Labrador said in a statement that " the message from Tuesday is clear – Americans are looking for a change in the status quo."
McCarthy, the current House Majority Whip, has the backing of Eric Cantor and, presumably, the current Republican leadership. The Idaho congressman's Friday announcement seems to be timed as a cure to the malaise McCarthy's unchallenged bid has caused among many conservatives, who see Cantor's defeat as a mandate for the GOP to stop compromising with Democrats on legislation. Labrador's statement goes on:
Republicans need to address the growing challenges of immobility amongst the poor, insecurity in the middle class and stop protecting the special interests at the top. We must ensure every American has an equal opportunity to succeed, that they are treated fairly not only by the laws we pass in Congress, but by our political system. We must restore the proper role of government to create space for free markets and civil society to prosper and flourish. And we have to unify the country around the values we share, the ideas we all support, and solutions we can agree on. President Obama and the Democrats have had their chance and they have failed. Republicans must be willing to take these challenges head on with new leadership, fresh ideas, and a different approach. I am running for Majority Leader because I want to help create a vision of growth and opportunity for everyone and start getting to work for the American people.
National Journal has more on Labrador's bid to become the GOP's No. 2 in the House. Labrador is a former immigration attorney, and he's Hispanic, something that could be a real asset to the GOP. Cantor's exit narrowed the diversity of the Republican party's leadership by eliminating the only Jewish Republican in Congress. However, National Journal notes that his bid stands only an outside chance of succeeding, and Labrador is probably aware that:
It's unclear, in fact, whether Labrador actually thinks he can win. As he pondered the race on Thursday evening, conservatives who know Labrador speculated that his entrance would be less about beating McCarthy and more about proving a point.
In any case, Labrador has less than a week to secure votes before Thursday's vote on the House Majority Leader position. Cantor announced this week that he would step down from the post in July.