Representative Raul Labrador, a Tea Party favorite, said he did
not even know some of the 233 Republicans in the chamber before he
launched his long-shot bid for House Majority Leader last week. Now
he is reassessing his future options.
"This (race) is a building block for something to come. I can't tell
you what that something to come is," Labrador, 46, an Idaho
conservative first elected to Congress in 2010, told a small group
of reporters in his office.
House Republicans chose Representative Kevin McCarthy of California,
an ally of Speaker John Boehner, as their new majority leader on
Thursday. They elected Representative Steve Scalise as majority
whip, the No. 3 Republican, whose job it is to drum up votes for
The election was necessitated by the June 10 primary election loss
of Majority Leader Eric Cantor to an economics professor backed by
the Tea Party. He steps down as majority leader on July 31.
Part of the wave of populist Tea Party Republicans elected four
years ago, Labrador has become a leader among conservatives
resisting Boehner's more moderate, business-friendly brand of
Republicanism. Labrador's name was also bandied about as a possible
candidate for Idaho governor last year, but in August he said he
wanted to stay in Congress for now.
“I will definitely spend the next four months getting to know each
member individually," Labrador said on Friday. That means until the
congressional mid-term elections in November, after which the party
caucuses choose their leaders once again.
Labrador said he learned during the short race for majority leader
that more than half the Republican caucus wanted change. But some
Republicans told him they did not want upheaval now - just before
the mid-term elections in which they hope to increase their numbers
in the House and win a Senate majority.
"That's what a lot of people were making their decision on,"
Labrador said. "Do we really want to have four months before an
election, a huge change in the House leadership?".
[to top of second column]
NO PROGRESS FOR CONSERVATIVES
In any case, the election did not result in any real change or
progress for conservatives, Labrador said - even though the
whip-elect, Scalise, had chaired the conservative Republican Study
Committee. The whip's job is not to make decisions but to sell
decisions that have been made, he said.
"You didn't get a true reformer in a decision-making
position(majority leader)," Labrador said. "I'm not trying to put
down Scalise, he's going to be a terrific whip ... (but) there's
really no change that occurred at this time."
He said he thinks Boehner's position in the fractious Republican
caucus may have been strengthened by Cantor's loss. Boehner might
decide he wants to stay on after the November elections instead of
bowing out and leaving Republicans with yet another post to fill,
"He's such an institutionalist," Labrador said of Boehner. "He
doesn't want too much change all at once."
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; editing by Gunna Dickson)
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