Massie says he's backing U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador to replace Cantor and unify GOP factions

06/13/2014 01:58 PM

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, is all in for Idaho U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador to replace Eric Cantor as the U.S. House Majority Floor Leader in an insurgent campaign.

“I think what Raul will do is unify the conservative conference,” Massie said.

In a phone interview with Pure Politics, Massie said that he had been urging Labrador to run for the post. Labrador is a conservative-minded GOP member who has often represented the tea party on national media outlets like NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But Massie acknowledged that Labrador will have an uphill battle against California U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy — the current majority whip.

“I told David Brat that Raul Labrador has a David Brat chance of winning,” Massie said referencing the underdog factor that Brat had against Cantor in Tuesday’s GOP primary in Virginia.

Brat defeated Cantor despite being outspent nearly 26 to 1 in his race — forcing Cantor to announce he would step down as floor leader and setting off the election for his replacement.

House Republicans will vote to replace Cantor on Thursday, and Massie said two things could help Labrador — a secret ballot and the elections being in mid-stream.

The leadership votes will be kept secret, and establishment leadership members McCarthy and Boehner — as Massie sees them — won’t be able to offer plush committee chair assignments to quell dissent.

Massie, in 2013, took part in what amounted to a mini-coup against House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. The leadership switch didn’t happen as the more conservative members ranks broke when it came time to vote, but Labrador was one of the final 12 to cast votes against Boehner.

But Massie doesn’t necessarily see the need to go after Boehner again if Labrador wins the internal election. He said adding a conservative member to the leadership mix will give everyone in the GOP a voice.

“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,” Labrador said in announcing his decision to enter the race Friday.

Massie said this is a time for conservatives to reform the process. “The establishment is off balance right now,” he said.

The process Massie references is how the House is being run — for instance he says Labrador has already given Massie his word that he will stick to a three day rule when it comes to bills being voted on.

Massie also said members are frustrated as bills have been “snuck by” — the latest instance he said was in late March when members were sent home and the House passed a Medicare patch bill by voice vote with few members there.

As for Brat, who could likely win the Virginia House seat in the general election, Massie says he is “really excited to have him come to Congress.”

He expects Brat would join the 24-member House “liberty caucus” which are focused on fiscal reforms — among other issues.


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