Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said the election of a new House majority leader on Thursday should not be a coronation.
The second-term lawmaker said Tuesday it isn't appropriate for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) simply to "ascend to the throne" because he is next in line.
Labrador is mounting an underdog bid for majority leader, claiming he could bring the party together in a way McCarthy can’t.
“I think what I can do is bring the party together, bring the conference together much better than Kevin McCarthy,” he said. “What we've had is kind of a top-down approach where, you know, you talk to members of Congress and they feel like they're totally irrelevant.”
Labrador entered the race last week after a number of other members he encouraged to run, including Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Jeb Hensarling (Texas), decided against it.
The position opened up after current Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he would step down next month after losing his primary election.
McCarthy's team has indicated it has the necessary votes to win Thursday. And only a handful of House Republicans have publicly said they are voting for Labrador.
But Labrador said, "A lot of people are switching their votes, and they're really excited about having somebody challenging the establishment right now.”
He criticized the GOP's current messaging, saying the public does not "really know what we are for.”
“And that's what I think a majority leader should be doing is sending that message to America of the five or six things that we would do,” he said.
Labrador also made the case for consistently adhering to a rule requiring Republicans to make bills publicly available for at least three days before voting on them, which has been sidestepped in the past.
Ultimately, members should decide in which direction they want the party to go, he said.
"It should be the members that make the decision," he said. "Each individual member needs to judge which direction they want [for] the party."