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Waiting For Kevin and Raul: Everything You Need To Know About The House GOP Leadership Race

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Kevin McCarthy may appear on today’s show, and if he does I’ll ask the obvious question: Will you be moving an immigration bill this year?  The obvious answer should be: “Of course not.  We aren’t doing that until the GOP has the Senate majority in 2016 and can present the president a bill that includes a long, strong fence, a very, very long path to the first application much less grant of citizenship, and regularization for most the hard-working people who have been liven there a while, and certainly for children who grew up for many years. The details will be worked out by the new Congress.”

Then the race between McCarthy and Raul Labrador, should Labrador run, will not be about immigration because both men would agree on immigration.  It will be about tactics and tone in the Conference going forward.  That would be a good race to have and if both men appeared on a few shows and then had a ballot that showed support for both it would encourage the two sides of the House GOP conference enough that they spent the next five months beating up on Obamacare and the president’s collapsed foreign policy, not each other.  The 3%ers at the margin of the party’s base would fall quiet or be even more completely marginalized.

Pray that Labrador runs.  It looks like he will.  From The Hill:

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) is taking a look at challenging McCarthy, and a source familiar with his thinking said he’s “getting a lot of encouragement from members.” The conservative is well-regarded by his fellow members of the 2010 GOP class, but it’s not clear whether he could seriously threaten McCarthy.

It would be terrific if a real contest existed even if McCarthy won by more than a few votes.  No hurt to Labrador even if he gets only enough votes to signal that there won’t be a re-election of Speaker Boehner next November.  The Leadership team needs a new face behind the podium in the next Congress, one with energy and a willingness to engage beyond the cycle of D.C. steakhouses that seem now to provide the fortress lines of the Beltway GOP against outlanders who might be Tea Party spies or Minutemen rowdies.  If Labrador declares today and starts asking for his colleagues’ votes, his colleagues will have one question to answer from their constituents between now and next Thursday: You a McCarthy or Labrador guy?  There are good reasons to answer either way, but to dodge the question would be to send your voters a signal of spinelessness that indicates perhaps you ought to get a different job.

In the meantime, McCarthy and Labrador should do a media blitz on the radio talk sows, the Sunday shows, sit-downs with print media, new and old.  Accessibility and confidence in message and demeanor would be a turn of the page, and a clear message that no immigration bill was forthcoming.  Keep in mind the biggest danger to the GOP remaining between now and the fall is the nomination of Tom Tancredo to be the GOP’s nominee for governor in Colorado.  The MSM is trying hard to make Tuesday night’s shocking defeat of Eric Cantor into an excuse to brand the party as Tancredoite.  It isn’t.  The mainstream of the GOP is about serious border security and immigration reform, about regularization, not “path to citizenship.”  It is, as Mark Steyn said to me yesterday, about showing voters that GOP representatives “live where they liv,” not in gate guarded communities.

To read up on the implications of the House GOP Leadership race, here are the key interviews I have done thus far:

With Fred Barnes;

With Mark Steyn;

With Bill Kristol;

With Joe Scarborough;

With Chuck Todd;

With Ron Fornier;

With Jim Geraghty;

We haven’t been describing our daily talks with the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker, but he writes on the race to succeed Eric Cantor nearly every day.  Read his stuff and of course Robert Costa and Guy P. Benson and you will be fully read in.

Bottom line: If McCarthy does some interviews and indicates that if he wins there won’t be any sort of immigration bill this year and if Raul Labrador runs and promises change in the next Congress, the GOP will have dodged a bullet.  Everyone will win, Tancredo won’t be the nominee, and the message will appear to have been received, even if Labrador doesn’t win, but very loudly and clearly if he does.  Speaker Boehner out to be calling and urging Labrador to get in so the GOP Caucus doesn’t look like the Politburo, and lacking Labradour, that McCarthy step aside for a senior statesman for the four months until the elections.

For some background on McCarthy, here’s the Los Angeles Times piece from this morning.

For background on Labrador, here is the Idaho Statesman piece from this morning.

Hopefully you will hear from both on today’s show.

Two more background pieces, both in the new The Weekly Standard, one from Bill Kristol, the other from Fred Barnes.  Now you are fully read in and ready for the most interesting and important six days of GOP internal maneuvers in many a year.




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