Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) told Fox this morning that he’s closing in on House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in the leadership race to fill the majority leader post being vacated by Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
McCarthy appeared to have the race locked up the day after Cantor’s primary defeat, but Labrador jumped into the race Friday, vowing to be the more conservative option.
The election is on Thursday. That leaves Labrador with two days to secure 118 votes.
“We still have a lot of work to do but we’re talking to a lot of people. A lot of people are switching their votes and they’re really excited about having somebody challenging the establishment right now. It’s important for us to show that we a new direction in the party,” he said.
The congressman contended he’d be better at bringing the party together than McCarthy.
“What we’ve had is kind of a top-down approach where, you know, you talk to members of Congress and they feel like they’re totally irrelevant. One of my friends told me that he felt that 80 percent of the conference feels like they’re irrelevant because everything’s done by the leadership,” Labrador said.
“I want every member to contribute. I want every member to participate in the process and to know that their ideas whether they’re good or bad, they’re going to be heard, they’re going to heard in the committees and if they pass the committee, they’re going to be heard on the House floor.”
That would include a 72-hour waiting period before the House votes on any legislation.
“We actually had that as the pledge to America when we won the House in 2010 and we violated that pledge numerous times on the House floor,” Labrador said.
“I think it’s time for us to actually stand up and — and tell the American people we believe — I think we have a problem with our messaging. The American people know that we’re against Barack Obama, that we don’t like his policies but they don’t really know what we’re for. And that’s what I think a majority leader should be doing is sending that message to America of the five or six things that we would do.”
He conceded that it would be “much easier” if he had the backing of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and was simply “coronated.”
“But the great thing about Congress is that we don’t — we don’t have that ability. It should be the members that make the decision. Each individual member needs to judge which direction they want the party,” Labrador said.
He added that before jumping into the race, he’d tried for three days to get Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to run for majority leader.
“They wouldn’t do it. They each had their own reasons for not doing it. And I just didn’t think it was appropriate for just a member of leadership to just ascend to the throne, you know. That’s not — that’s not what this should be about. It should be about representing the values of the conference and making sure that the conference can decide for itself which direction it wants to go.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told MSNBC this morning that his counterpart in the House should make a fine majority leader.
“It appears very likely that Kevin McCarthy is going to be elected. I think that’s a testimony to his relationship to his members across the spectrum of the Republican caucus,” Hoyer said. “As you know, I’ve said repeatedly the Republican Party is a deeply divided party at war with itself, in many respects. I think the Cantor loss was demonstrative of that.”
“But I think Kevin McCarthy is someone who does work across his party. I think can be an effective majority leader. And I certainly have every intention of working with him and sitting down him and trying to come to common agreements.”