Raul Labrador is quietly considering a campaign for House majority leader, according to a source familiar with the congressman’s thinking, potentially setting up a head-to-head contest with Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to replace Eric Cantor.
“He’s getting a lot of encouragement from other members,” the source said.
Labrador was approached by several influential conservative members Thursday morning after Rep. Jeb Hensarling announced he would not challenge McCarthy for the No. 2 spot in leadership.
While Labrador enjoys strong support among the most conservative members of the House GOP, it’s unclear whether he would have the ability — with the special election less than a week away — to build a broader coalition capable of giving McCarthy a competitive race.
As Labrador contemplated their encouragement to enter the race, another Republican, Rep. Pete Sessions, dropped his bid.
Labrador is now carefully considering whether he wants to enter the fray — and whether he could possibly win.
An outspoken sophomore lawmaker from Idaho, he is one of the most popular tea-party-allied members of the GOP’s right flank.
Labrador has occasionally rubbed some Republicans the wrong way with his vocal criticism of the current leadership team. He has frequently attacked that team for being too passive and is one of 12 members who refused to support Speaker John Boehner’s reelection. He has consistently said the leadership team is not representative of the conference because it does not include a red-state Republican.
Labrador’s name has occasionally been mentioned as a dark-horse candidate for a leadership position. In fact, earlier this year, Labrador joked in an interview with National Journal that he might “do something crazy” like run for speaker of the House.
It’s unclear what his timetable is for making a decision. Many lawmakers have already left Washington and will not return until Monday.
This story was updated with the news that Rep. Sessions had dropped his bid for majority leader.
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