Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said Friday that he will run for House majority leader, which means that Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will not have a clear path to the second-ranking leadership position in the lower chamber.
“I want a House Leadership team that reflects the best of our conference. A leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together. A leadership team that can help unite and grow our party. Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that," Labrador said in a statement.
During a four-hour flight from Washington to Salt Lake City on Thursday evening, Labrador signaled his interest in running, telling The Washington Post that he was mulling a bid.
The election to replace current House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who stunningly lost his primary this week, will be held June 19. McCarthy, currently the third-ranking Republican, has the inside track. Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) and Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) weighed running too, but ultimately decided against it.
Labrador's decision sets the stage for a new round of division in the oft-fractured GOP Conference. As the Washington Post described him last year, Labrador spent his first two years on Capitol Hill "earning and burnishing a reputation as not just a 'no' but a 'hell no' vote on nearly every spending and fiscal bill that came across his desk."
Labrador called Cantor a "friend" but suggested his loss was a sign the public wants new leadership.
"The message from Tuesday is clear – Americans are looking for a change in the status quo," he said.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the most conservative members of the House and a staunch opponent of immigration reform including a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, suggested in a tweet that neither McCarthy nor Labrador would be a good choice:
Wanted: Applicants for Majority Leader, US House who have record opposing amnesty. Come see me. 2nd Request. No qualified applicants, yet.
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) June 13, 2014
Ed O'Keefe contributed to this story.