The battle between Idaho Republican Congressman Raúl R. Labrador and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to replace Eric Cantor as House majority leader features two wholly different strategies.
Labrador is working the media, according to analysts, in an attempt to convince voters to pressure their congressional representatives to vote for him; McCarthy is quietly contacting the representatives themselves behind the scenes. Labrador is seen as more in the mold of a Tea Party conservative, while McCarthy’s reputation is more along the lines of an establishment Republican.
On Monday, Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC) toldRoll Call that McCarthy wasn’t simply trying to win, but intending to try to win as many votes as possible, so that when the position came up for another vote in six months, he would be secure. He was confident that McCarthy would win big, saying, “The question is not whether he has it locked up, the question is how many total votes will he have… I think Kevin went to bed on Wednesday with 120,” referring to the number McCarthy already had. A candidate needs 117 to win the position.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) added, “I know that Kevin is very confident.” California Republican Devin Nunes simply said, “No one will outwork him.”
Nunes stated of Labrador’s efforts: “If you’re talking to the media, you’re really not talking to the people you need to be talking to.” McHenry echoed, “If you’re spending time really doing heavy press, it’s kind of taking your time with getting those final conversations in.”
McCarthy has not conducted a single public interview, while Labrador has been interviewed by media heavy hitters such as Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Hugh Hewitt.
Still, Labrador has had his problems; The Washington Examiner has reported that Labrador was still trying to find his fellow representatives’ phone numbers.