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Politics & Government

Idaho Congressman Labrador Announces Candidacy For House Majority Leader

Gage Skidmore
Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador could begin his third term in the U.S. House as Majority Leader. Labrador Friday announced he's running for the high-profile post after Rep. Eric Cantor, R-VA, lost his primary election.

The Washington Post reported Thursday Labrador had been making calls about possibly running for the position.

"During a four-hour flight from Washington to Salt Lake City on Thursday evening, Labrador was on his iPad messaging with fellow members to gauge the depth of his support. Labrador also huddled in the first class galley for a lengthy chat with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joined them for part of the conversation. Labrador said many of his colleagues were urging him to run on Thursday and that he is doing his due diligence to weigh the pros and cons of a bid challenging McCarthy. "It's not something that I've been planning," Labrador said." - Washington Post

In a press release sent to media Friday, Labrador says Cantor's loss makes it clear Americans want a change in the status quo.

“I want a House Leadership team that reflects the best of our conference," Labrador said. "A leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together. A leadership team that can help unite and grow our party. Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that."

“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.” - Rep. Labrador

Managing editor of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics blog Kyle Kondik says Labrador's likelihood of becoming majority leader is a long shot. Current House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is favored to win, says Kondik.

"McCarthy has been building alliances with other members for a very long time, thorough the caucus," says Kondik. "Whereas Labrador, I think, is someone who had been more on the fringe of the caucus. He has his supporters, but I don’t think that’s a big enough group necessarily to make him majority leader.”

Kondik doesn't believe Cantor's loss is a signal that Americans are looking for a change within Congress.

“Two-hundred-twenty-seven out of 229 House incumbents on both sides sought re-nomination in their party primaries and won re-nomination, so it’s not like there’s been a flood of members getting kicked out," says Kondik. "To claim that there’s a national demand for change, it’s really cherry-picking the results in a single district and applying it to the entire country.”

Labrador was first elected to Congress in 2010 amid a wave of tea party wins. The Post describes Labrador as being a "vocal and telegenic spokesman for the renegade class."

Labrador moved to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico when he was 13-years-old. He's now a lawyer by trade, and calls Eagle, Idaho home, where he and his wife Becca have five children.

Find reporter Emilie Ritter Saunders on Twitter at @emiliersaunders

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