Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador made a pitch for relevancy to House GOP members Wednesday.
“I want every member, regardless of what state you come from or whether you meet for lunch on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, to feel like you are relevant again,” Labrador said in his address to members Wednesday morning, according to prepared remarks.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced last week that he would be stepping down as majority leader after his unexpected primary defeat. Labrador is facing Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy in an election to take Cantor’s soon-to-be-former job.
Labrador recalled a conversation he had with Georgia Republican Rep. Austin Scott right after he announced his candidacy, in which Scott asked why he was running. Labrador responded by explaining he wants to create unity around a conservative and make the conference a place where more than just those in leadership matter.
“Raul, I will support you; 80% of us feel like we are irrelevant,” Labrador quoted Scott.
“If you have an idea, I want to empower you to take it through committee. You will not always succeed, but I want you to feel like you had a fair shot,” Labrador said. “I want members of Congress to be more relevant than the staff. Why are we even here if the leadership staff is going to make all decisions anyway?”
According to Labrador, like Scott, he too has felt irrelevant.
“How many of you served in state legislatures – I loved it, it was the best professional experience of my life. From the very first day, I felt like I was relevant, I mattered, I made a difference. I have not felt that way here. And I know that most of you haven’t either,” he added.
He further harkened back to the Tea Party wave of 2010.
“Remember, we regained control of the House in 2010 because Americans believed that Washington was not listening,” he said. “If you vote for the status quo tomorrow, you will prove that we are still not listening. We will break our pledge, and with that we may lose the ability to regain control of the Senate and eventually win the presidency. We can send a message to our leadership that we need to change. Electing a new whip does not really change what we do, just merely who counts the votes.”
Overall, he promised a trustworthy leadership, publishing bill texts for 72 hours, and clearly defined rules.
“[T]he best part is that, if you personally like our current Leadership members, but you believe that we need change — by electing me, you’re not getting rid of anyone; you’re just adding a new needed voice to the leadership table,” he said, referring to the fact that McCarthy would remain the majority whip.
After the meeting, Labrador told reporters his pitch was “very well” received.