As if Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador didn't already have enough on his plate, his late bid to become the No. 2 GOP leader in the U.S. House was handicapped by lacking the most important tool to reach his colleagues — their cell phone numbers.
Labrador announced his long-shot race for majority leader Friday in Boise, as he escorted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to the GOP convention in Moscow.
Squeezing in radio interviews with national talk-show hosts, Labrador also attempted to broker a compromise between the Idaho GOP's tea party/libertarian wing and the establishment wing loyal to Gov. Butch Otter. That failed Saturday as the convention adjourned amidst catcalls. After spending part of Father's Day with his family in Eagle, Labrador flew back to Washington, D.C., Sunday.
But his ability to make his case against Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California was frustrated because he lacked "basic contact information for many of his colleagues," the conservative Washington Examiner reported Monday in a story headlined, "The bafflingly simple reason Raul Labrador had trouble campaigning for majority leader this weekend."
The Examiner cited unnamed GOP aides who said Labrador's staff was calling their offices seeking members' direct cell phone numbers. McCarthy, in his three years as the House's top vote counter, said last week that he'd already locked up more than half the votes in the GOP caucus.
Late Monday, Labrador replied with a letter to colleagues, saying "the race needs another voice" and that last week's stunning defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his Virginia primary shows "Americans are looking for a change in the status quo."
"I am writing today to humbly ask for your vote for Majority Leader," wrote Labrador, who has been in Congress since January 2011.
"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.
Labrador told Idaho reporters last week he was undaunted by the conventional wisdom that holds he has little chance in Thursday's vote. "I think I've had some experiences with heavy favorites before," he said during his airport news conference with Sen. Paul.
Late Monday, Labrador issued a news release including his "Dear Colleague," letter:
LABRADOR SENDS LETTER TO COLLEAGUES REQUESTING SUPPORT FOR MAJORITY LEADER RUN
“Americans are looking for a change in the status quo”
“I am not running against anyone, but for everyone”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of his race for House Majority Leader, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) sent the following letter to his House Republican colleagues today:
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, 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 your support. Win or lose, I am committed to working with you to make sure our Conference is as outstanding as the members it represents.
Member of Congress