Capitol & State

Idaho's Labrador: 'I am going to win' majority leader race

Rep. Raul Labrador listens to parliamentarians as they struggle — unsuccessfully — to resolve conflict at the Idaho Republican Convention in June 2014 in Moscow.
Rep. Raul Labrador listens to parliamentarians as they struggle — unsuccessfully — to resolve conflict at the Idaho Republican Convention in June 2014 in Moscow. AP

Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador told influential conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the conventional wisdom has it wrong and he'll win Thursday's vote for U.S. House majority leader.

"I am going to win," Labrador said in an interview Friday. "You know, I’m already getting a lot of calls from people who are telling me that they’re switching their vote, that they’re excited about having a choice in this race, and that they want a different direction for the conference. They want more conservative leadership in the House."

Hewitt's interview of Labrador was picked up by the conservative online news site  Breitbart.com, which shares credit for helping raise Dave Brat's profile and pull off last week's upset of the No. 2 Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. Radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin also championed Brat, who won despite being outspent about 25-to-1.

Levin also spoke with Labrador in an interview that aired late Friday, saying Labrador was "making it a true race between him and Kevin McCarthy."

Cantor is resigning his leadership post next month, prompting Thursday's vote. Mainstream media say Labrador's entry into the race is largely symbolic and the GOP's No. 3, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, is all but a lock to win.

In a Friday news conference in Boise, Labrador wasn't quite as bold as he was with Hewitt, saying he had hoped more senior lawmakers would run. But he said he has a campaign plan, adding, "I got into this to win."

Critics on the left say Labrador's chairmanship of the Idaho Republican Convention — which adjourned Saturday without completing its business, including electing a chairman and other officers — show he's not ready for prime time.

But Labrador said he worked hard for three weeks on a compromise which simply fell through.

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