Can Conservative Groundswell Give Labrador a Chance in Majority Leader Race?

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), never one to shy away from a battle with the leaders of his Republican Party, has decided he does have a dog in the fight to replace Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as House majority leader.

Amash is backing Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) against the GOP establishment’s candidate, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the majority whip of the House.

McCarthy is seen as having a virtual lock on the majority leader position. Others who were rumored to want the job gracefully drifted to the sidelines. Out of nowhere came Labrador.

Pundits by the bushel are saying he doesn’t have a chance.

But then again, didn’t Cantor think he had a 40-point advantage going into the June 10 Virginia Republican primary before being rocketed into retirement by upstart economics professor David Brat?

“Washington Republicans can bury what happened last Tuesday with piles of excuses. But if they view Tuesday as an anomaly, they do so at their own peril,” said Amash. “Ordinary Americans are frustrated that their representatives aren’t listening to them. They desperately want Republican leadership they can identify with, that speaks to their beliefs, and that will forcefully make our case going into the next term.”

Labrador, like Amash, was part of the 2010 class of Republican newcomers who were carried into Congress on the shoulders of voters who supported the tea party and libertarian-leaners who promised to bring sweeping change to Congress.

Labrador, echoing Amash — or maybe it’s the other way around — says the time for that change is finally here. He wants a seat at the table.

“I was stunned when Eric Cantor lost his primary election earlier this week. Eric is a good friend and I have tremendous respect for him. But the message from Tuesday is clear – Americans are looking for a change in the status quo,” said Labrador.

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson wrote on RedState Friday shortly after Labrador issued his challenge announcement that it is time for conservatives to stand up against House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and others like him.

“Give them no room to pose,” wrote Erickson. “Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) and Labrador are proving their worth as conservative leaders in the House and conservatives need to get in the trenches to support them.” Stutzman is waging a longshot campaign for whip.

Amash took it on the chin shortly after winning election when he and other young Republicans launched a bid to outset Boehner. Amash was removed from his committee assignments as punishment.

He might have been bruised. But Amash is ready to fight again.

“We can’t respond to a stunning loss by giving a pat on the back and promotion to the same team,” Amash said. “It’s time for someone new, someone conservative, someone who will put forward a fresh agenda, and someone we know is a proven and talented spokesman. That man is Raúl Labrador.”

“The majority leader’s main job is to set the agenda for House Republicans. We must have a solid conservative set that agenda, or we’ll risk being out of step with our constituents,” said Amash.

Labrador wasted no time June 13 in laying out that new agenda, preparing to take the Republican Party where many have hesitated to go. House leadership elections are Thursday.

“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,” he said.

“We must restore the proper role of government to create space for free markets and civil society to prosper and flourish.”