Republicans stink at picking congressional leaders. Of the House leaders and Senate leaders of the last decade, I can’t think of one I would have speak to convert a group of independent voters to the Republican Party.
Would any sane conservative ever send Dennis Hastert, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Tom Delay, Roy Blunt, Bill Frist, John Kyl, John Cornyn, or Trent Lott to speak with a group of college students? I doubt it.
But, I would send Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), and that’s why we need him as our next House Majority Leader.
Communications skills and messaging matter. Our House and Senate leaders have bigger jobs than just counting and whipping votes — the media turns to them to as spokesmen for the GOP.
The first question Republicans should ask about a prospective new leader is, can this person relate and communicate with average voters? Labrador can; his opponent and our other leaders cannot.
These leaders conduct hundreds of press conferences and national television interviews, and lately, they’ve been embarrassing our party. The current leaders are one of the biggest reasons why Democrats have successfully labeled us the “Party of the rich, white guys” who are “obstructionists” waging a “war on women.” Instead of debunking these myths, current leadership recites the same tired talking points that convince no one.
Not only can Labrador communicate a fresh conservative message, his personal story debunks many of these stereotypes about Republicans. Labrador is articulate, liberty-minded, young, and Hispanic — all things lacking with current leadership.
Labrador was born in Puerto Rico. His single mom raised him with a modest income, moving to Las Vegas when Labrador was 13 to work in a hospital and eventually earning her degree to become a schoolteacher. Labrador gives credit to his independent mother as his inspiration to succeed.
Republicans have gotten a bad rap for seemingly criticizing single motherhood; Labrador story is a celebration of his mother’s success. Republicans have struggled to communicate with Hispanics; imagine if Labrador produced Spanish-language advertisements about conservative principles.
Labrador is a leader for the GOP’s future. Our country is becoming younger and more diverse — the fastest growing voting blocs are young Americans and Hispanics. He also has strong libertarian leanings that reflect the values of younger Americans and the future of the Party.
The biggest criticism of Labrador is his lack of experience whipping votes and coalition-building within the House Republican caucus. However, it’s important to remember that Labrador represents conservatives in the House who haven’t had a voice in leadership, and who have often publicly fought with leadership.
With a conservative like Labrador leading House Republicans, he would unify and prevent further infighting. If Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — who has a lower Heritage Action score (42%) than Rep. Eric Cantor — becomes Majority Leader, we can only expect the infighting to continue and increase. McCarthy would be more of the same, and as the election in Virginia’s 7th district shows, the grassroots of the Party want change.
Labrador isn’t only the conservatives’ choice; he is also the choice of those who want to govern.
Democrats have a negative view of McCarthy, despite his moderate voting record. Yet, they like the more conservative Labrador because, as House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) puts it, “while he’s extremely conservative, far more conservative than I would like, at least I know that … And it’s easy to come to terms with someone so long as you know where they stand. You can reach common ground with a person like that.”
Republicans can’t govern if we don’t clearly explain our principles. The House GOP caucus will attract more voters and pass more legislation if we have a powerful communicator like Labrador in leadership.
Labrador relates to normal Americans. McCarthy only relates to and is popular with other House Republicans, which is why he probably will win this race. Instead of running the GOP House caucus like a frat house — picking the next popular guy in line — I hope Republican Congressmen will elect a new leader for a new generation of conservative Republicans.
Ron Meyer is the president of Springboard Media Strategies LLC and chairman of Refresh America PAC. He often appears on Fox News, Fox Business Network and CNN.