(CNN) - Conservative Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho announced Friday he will campaign to become House majority leader, a position soon to be vacated by outgoing Rep. Eric Cantor.
"I want a House Leadership team that reflects the best of our conference," Labrador said in a statement. "Americans don't believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that."
Labrador, a two-term congressman who was elected with wide tea party support in 2010, will face off against GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, setting the scene for a conservative vs. establishment showdown for next week's leadership election.
The sudden power shift comes after Cantor, the second most powerful Republican in the House, suffered a major primary loss in his Virginia district on Tuesday.
Texan Sessions drops bid to succeed Cantor in House leadership
Labrador is largely considered a long-shot for the job. House Republicans will vote Thursday, leaving little time for Labrador to organize a solid campaign. His bid may simply amount to a protest vote on behalf of the far-right conservative faction in the House, which didn't move quickly enough to mount a serious challenge against McCarthy.
Labrador is in Idaho this weekend to lead his state's GOP convention. One ally of McCarthy took a jab at Labrador's campaign rollout.
“You don’t launch a bid on a Friday afternoon with no one in town with less than a week before the vote," the source said.
In contrast, McCarthy began reaching out to GOP colleagues soon after Cantor lost, and as the whip, he already had a group of lieutenants in place to begin securing commitments from members.
Kevin McCarthy's 'House of Cards'
While announcing Wednesday that he would step down from the leadership position on July 31, Cantor said he would back McCarthy if the four-term congressman decided to run for his job.
"I can tell you that if my dear friend and colleague Kevin McCarthy does decide to run, I think he'd make an outstanding majority leader and I will be backing him with my full support," he said.
Outside conservative groups who view McCarthy as too moderate have been urging someone to challenge him from the right. Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling briefly considered a run but decided he didn't want to spend the time away from his family that would be required in a leadership job. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan was also urged to run.
For his part, Labrador has been a perpetual critic of the GOP leadership. He didn't vote for Boehner for speaker in January 2013 and regularly says he doesn't believe Boehner will run again.
High-profile battle on for Cantor's leadership post
After Labrador’s announcement, the conservative group FreedomWorks quickly released a statement of support.
"Americans deserve a choice in leadership, and thanks to Raúl Labrador, Republicans don't have to settle for the 'next guy in line,’" the group's president, Matt Kibbe, said. "Unlike Kevin McCarthy, Labrador is ready to make good policy and fiscal responsibility a priority in the House."
While conservative groups may back Labrador, they don't get a vote, and internal leadership votes are more about personal relationships than outside influences.
NO Tea People in Congress. They, the tea people, are the reason for all the obstruction in Congress
Labrador retriever for the Kochs....go fetch boy!!
No more tea party members in congress! They are useless!!
Raúl Labrador would be an ideal running mate for Rick Perry in the 2016 election .
Drill baby Drill , two cowboys who understand utilizing mother natures God given endowments for job creation !
One National Park is all we need , thats why we have video recorders !
Weird how CNN doesn't mention Labrador would be the First Hispanic Majority leader in US history. It is almost like CNN has no clue or is doing the liberals jobs.
Democrat groups have endorsed McCarthy. So the republicans could chose between making history with a smart and respected Hispanic or they could go with a Ken Doll owned by the Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Valley
See if was an actual Labrador Retriever I could actually support it. This guy is looking for his 15 seconds of fame.
Having a retriever dog would be a step up for that position, considering its previous occupants.
If the Tea Party moves into higher positions in the government, what will be their opinion on the TP's stated support of violent overthrow of the government by groups that disagree? Will it still be OK or will that be revised with the rest of history?
Oh, I thought it meant a Labrador Retriever was running for Majority leader – which actually would make a better choice than any of the Tea Party types.
We all know the four-legged kind of Labrador could do as good a job of legislating as House Republicans have done...
If McCarthy is backed by Cantor, then he's likely just as corrupt and out of touch with the base, as him.
WOOF! When I read this headline, I thought a Labrador dog was running for the spot. Man's Best Friend would do better than the barkers we have up there now!
I thought a dog was being entered as a joke candidate given the revolt going on in the GOP. Then again, what an appropriate name for a stooge for the billionaire tea party. Nice comment Patriot.
Dems dont like obstruction ? It may stop the destruction . Mark my word they the dems have put us right where we dont want to an shouldnt be . bets anyone? ?
MaryM, yeah its all the "tea peoples" fault. MMm hmmm, The media did great job of ostracizing the tea party
Good lord, I thought they meant a dog. Come to think of it, a dog couldn't do any worse.
A Hispanic Republican. I can already hear the liberal heads exploding.
Labrador said in a statement. "Americans don't believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that."
More smoke, mirrors and double talk from the right wing. Mr. Labrador; you sold your soul when you got involved with the GOP.
We have a "Do Nothing Congress" now. The attempt at arm flexing by the American Taliban [Repub . . . lican] theocracy extremists will only further degrade Congress. Americans interested in PROGRESS on immigration reform, the minimum wage, on American infrastructure & jobs [before a bridge collapses or an underwater tunnel cracks], on reductions in gun violence, in a FAIRER tax system for working people, ALL those Americans need to turnout in 2014, `16, and `18 and vote straight DEMOCRATIC for Congress, their State Governor AND their State legislatures. That is the ONLY way to reverse the gerrymannering that is giving dissproportionate influence to the obstructionists in Congress.
OMG! This guy is a mini rafaelito.
And here I thought, when I first saw the headline, that a labrador retriever *dog* was in the race! I'm *so* disappointed...
More Tea Party and Less Establishment.... Bring It On!
he's a very good, articulate spokesman for the conservatives. the tea party is the only salvation for this country. continuing to vote for corrupt and lying far left democrats is destroying this country economically and our standing around the world. look at the current invasion at our southern border to see what they want for this country, open borders where everybody can just walk into this country and demand to be taken care of, at our expense.