Hard-charging conservative Rep. Raul R. Labrador said Friday that he’s jumping into the race for House Majority Leader, giving tea party members a champion in the contest to replace fallen Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
“Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that,” said Mr. Labrador, Idaho Republican, in announcing his bid for the No. 2 leadership post.
“I want a House leadership team that reflects the best of our conference. A leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together. A leadership team that can help unite and grow our party,” he said.
Mr. Labrador’s entrance into the race challenges House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, who had moved early to lock up enough support to guarantee his promotion to Majority Leader.
The boasts by Mr. McCarthy’s supporters that he had the election “in the bag” had caused grumbling among House conservatives unhappy with the leadership’s domination by establishment and blue-state Republicans.
The election is set for Thursday. House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, wants to quickly move beyond the leadership shakeup caused by Mr. Cantor’s unexpected primary defeat Tuesday to a conservative rival in his Richmond, Virginia, district.
“I was stunned when Eric Cantor lost his primary election earlier this week,” Mr. Labrador said. “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.”