Rep. Raúl R. Labrador is running a high-profile campaign to be the next House majority leader, appearing on nationally-syndicated talk shows, obliging interview requests from Capitol Hill scribes and penning a personal appeal to his colleagues.
In advance of the Thursday election that will decide who gets to replace outgoing majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Idaho Republican sent a brief letter to members of the GOP conference late Monday to ask for their support.
Labrador, who is running largely as the conservative alternative to his opponent, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, said that his seat at the leadership table would mark both a departure from the “status quo” and a return to a time where senior lawmakers sought to unify the rank and file. “Promoting, by acclamation, a member of the very Washington leadership that has failed to bridge the divide with Republicans outside Washington struck me as exactly the wrong response,” Labrador wrote about McCarthy’s largely-assumed ascent to the next wrung of the House Republican leadership ladder and Cantor’s primary defeat at the hands of a tea-party-backed challenger, Dave Brat.
“I have decided to stand for Majority Leader,” Labrador went on, “running not against anyone, but for everyone. The simple fact is, Republicans will never unite the country until we first unite our Party.”
In this letter to fellow members, Labrador addressed concerns that “an outspoken conservative from the Class of 2010” was not qualified to help run the conference, though he didn’t specify how he expected to work alongside Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, whom he tried to oust from the role at the start of the 113th Congress.
He shared the story of growing up in Puerto Rico with a single mother who taught her son to chase the American dream and at the end of the day he promised to work with colleagues “win or lose … to make sure our Conference is outstanding as the members it represents.”
Labrador also acknowledged the reality that he entered the race later than McCarthy, which inevitably puts him at a disadvantage in terms of building up the base of members willing to whip on his behalf.
“I know some people made commitments before I entered the race,” Labrador said, “but the most important commitments we make are to the American people we represent. So I am hopeful you will at least pause for a moment and consider me for this role.”
Read the full letter below:
June 16, 2014
I am writing today to humbly ask for your vote for Majority Leader.
Like all of you, I was stunned when Eric Cantor lost his primary election. Eric is my friend and I have tremendous respect for him. But the message from last week is clear — Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.
In the immediate aftermath of Eric’s announcement, Kevin and the Whip team moved quickly to line up support for his candidacy, which is to their credit. But given the extraordinary circumstances that triggered this election — and the related, ongoing divisions within our Party — this race needed another voice.
Promoting, by acclamation, a member of the very Washington leadership that has failed to bridge the divide with Republicans outside Washington struck me as exactly the wrong response. And so, I have decided to stand for Majority Leader — running not against anyone, but for everyone.
The simple fact is, Republicans will never again unite the country until we first unite our Party.
Some might question whether an outspoken conservative from the Class of 2010 could bring us together. But I believe I am uniquely qualified to do just that. Our Conference has the talent, the energy and the ideas equal to the challenges of these anxious times. What we lack is a positive, innovative reform agenda and the courage to implement it.
Throughout America, there is a growing sense that the American Dream is slipping away and that our leaders in Washington aren’t up to the challenge of preserving it.
I have lived the American Dream. I was raised by a single mother in Puerto Rico and lived there until the age of 13 when we moved to Las Vegas. She worked many different jobs to make ends meet. And while times were tough, she never complained and she never envied other people’s success. Instead, she encouraged me to dream big. She always reminded me that if I studied hard, worked hard, and did right by others, I could live the American Dream. She was right! And today, I believe our chief responsibility as House Republicans is to preserve that dream for America’s children and grandchildren.
I know some people made commitments before I entered the race, but the most important commitments we make are to the American people we represent. So I am hopeful you will at least pause for a moment and consider me for this role.
In the coming days, I will be in touch with each of you personally to ask for our support. Win or lose, I am committed to working with you to make sure our Conference is outstanding as the members it represents
Member of Congress
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