Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho)
Raúl Labrador

Rep. Raúl Labrador, Republican from Idaho, announced on Friday his intention to run for the second-highest seat in the House after the former majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, lost his primary to Tea Party favorite and economics professor Dave Brat. The Washington Post notes that Labrador -- a Puerto Rican-born conservative who came to power in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave -- will join four other Republicans vying for the seat: Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Marlin A. Stutzman of Indiana, in addition to current third-ranking Republican Kevin McCarthy of California. With the election on Thursday, he’ll have a short amount of time to stoke the coals of his campaign.

Labrador was part of a bipartisan House team tasked with designing that chamber’s version of immigration reform, but dropped out of negotiations last June after disagreements over how to handle health care for undocumented immigrants under the reform package. The other three conservatives on the team soon followed and the effort fizzled as House Republicans coalesced in opposition to the Senate’s own reform bill. Immigration was the central issue in Brat’s campaign against Cantor, with the upstart charging Cantor of supporting “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants -- though a poll of his district’s constituents shows that dissatisfaction with House GOP leaders and the perception that Cantor was disconnected from his home district was probably the deciding factor in the race.

The Post writes that many of the conservative advocacy groups who celebrated the loss of Cantor -- who said he supported extending a path to citizenship for Dreamers -- turned into Labrador boosters after the representative made his announcement on Friday. But Scalise, a southern conservative, is seen as the only real threat to McCarthy, who has extensive alliances across the GOP caucus. And Labrador may still be to the left of the most hardline anti-illegal immigration and restrictionist groups: Politico notes that Rep. Steve King of Iowa, long the most outspoken hardline conservative on immigration, tweeted disapprovingly last week that Labrador was “pro-amnesty.”

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