Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, on Monday night delivered a written appeal to fellow GOP House lawmakers, seeking their vote in Thursday's vote to elect a new majority leader.
He told members that because of divisions within the GOP, “the race needs another voice.”
Labrador, who took office in 2011, is challenging House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is believed to be the frontrunner and who has served in his current leadership role for three years.
Labrador said Majority Leader Eric Cantor's shocking primary loss last week is a sign that “Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”
But it will be an uphill battle for Labrador.
McCarthy claimed to have secured the support of more than half the conference as of last week, and many are planning to support him in order to provide continuity in the GOP leadership following Cantor’s stunning loss.
Cantor said he’ll step down from his post July 31.
Labrador is likely to secure the backing of the most conservative faction of the House GOP, which includes many of the lawmakers who first took office alongside Labrador in 2011.
The group tried to recruit House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, but Hensarling declined, leaving many of them angry with the idea of McCarthy sailing to a clear victory.
McCarthy is considered part of the leadership establishment and aligns his views with Cantor when it comes to immigration reform. The two have expressed support for immigration reform legislation that legalizes those who are living here illegally and provides some with a pathway to citizenship.
Labrador, a former immigration lawyer, said he opposes immigration reform of any kind in 2014, but said he believes in eventually increasing legal immigration and creating a guest worker program after border security is increased.
But Labrador has said he opposes a pathway to citizenship. This could help him win favor with conservatives who might view him as an imperfect but far more attractive alternative to McCarthy.
Labrador suggested those who already pledged support to McCarthy rethink their choice.
“The most important commitments we make are to the American people we represent,” Labrador said.
Here is the letter:
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.