Raul embraces agitator role


Never in American history has a congressman in just his second term in office been elected to a position of high leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Yet Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador tried it in 2014, launching a long-shot campaign for House majority leader – a campaign he ultimately lost to then-Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

A fractious tea party favorite and co-founder of the insurgent House Freedom Caucus, Labrador doesn’t care much for the traditions or norms of Congress. He speaks with contempt of politicians who see their job as “governing,” including compromising and deal-making.

Now seeking a fourth two-year term, he leads a faction pushing instead for fundamental change – even if it has to tear everything down to get it. And his group already has a big notch in its belt, having ousted House Speaker John Boehner.

“The reality is that there is a large segment of our conference that wants change,” Labrador said when he ran for majority leader. “I consider myself the conservative alternative.”

Jasper LiCalzi, chairman of the College of Idaho’s Department of Political Economy, likened Labrador’s appeal to that of presidential candidate Donald Trump. “Not playing by the rules, changing the way Washington works. I think that’s what they see. … They’ve got to really shake things up.”

But while shaking things up is possible, change is harder. The Freedom Caucus has roughly 40 members; the House has 435 members, 247 of them Republicans.

“The big problem is that if you don’t have the votes, you can’t change things. Especially in the House, it comes down to the votes,” LiCalzi said.

Via the Spokesman Review