WASHINGTON — Conservative Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho will challenge California’s Kevin McCarthy for the House leadership, a long-shot bid backed by outside tea party groups to boost a red-state Republican to majority leader.
Labrador said Friday he was jumping into the race because the message from Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s unexpected loss in his Virginia primary this week was that “Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”
“Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening, and now is the time to change that,” said Labrador, a second-term Republican who was elected on the 2010 tea party wave.
“I want to create a vision of growth and opportunity for everyone and start getting to work for the American people.”
The race is McCarthy’s to lose, House vote counters agree, but some outside groups, including FreedomWorks and the Campaign for Liberty, urged Labrador to pose a challenge to the Californian, whom they view as not sufficiently conservative for House leadership. More prominent tea party groups, though, are not outwardly involved.
The House’s most conservative members have frequently expressed a desire for leadership that would more directly reflect their populist views. But although red-state conservatives make up a majority of the House Republicans ranks, they have been unable to organize themselves into a governing force.
The splintering in their ranks has thwarted efforts to challenge McCarthy.