Conservative Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho will challenge Rep. Kevin McCarthy for the second-in-command House leadership post left vacant by the sudden primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
McCarthy, who currently serves as the Majority Whip, is thought to have garnered significant support for his bid, but conservatives clamored for one of their own to run to McCarthy’s right. Earlier this week. Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling took his name out of the race despite encouragement from some of the House’s most outspoken conservative members. Another Texas Republican, Rep. Pete Sessions, also withdrew from the contest.
Several outside conservative groups urged Labrador to get into the race. FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe said in a statement backing the Idaho lawmaker that "Republicans should have learned by now that ‘the next guy in line’ isn't entitled to the next rung on the ladder."
In a statement, Labrador also hinted that McCarthy, an ally of House Speaker John Boehner, would be more of the same at a time when many Tea Party-affiliated members want a shakeup at the top of the Republican conference.
“Eric is a good friend and I have tremendous respect for him,” he said. “But the message from Tuesday is clear - Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”
Leadership elections will be held on June 19, giving Labrador less than a week to build support.