June 19, 2014
The Arizona Republic
Erin Kelly

Arizona Republican Reps. Matt Salmon and Paul Gosar said Thursday that they voted for Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho to be the next House majority leader because they believed he would help move the House toward bolder action.

Labrador lost to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who as majority whip was already a member of the House leadership team.

McCarthy will replace outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who will step down at the end of July after losing his GOP primary race in a stunning upset last week.

The vote was taken behind closed doors at a meeting of House Republicans. Salmon and Gosar revealed their votes to The Republic soon after the meeting, but fellow Arizona Republican Reps. David Schweikert and Trent Franks did not.

Salmon said he saw Labrador as "a fresh face" while he viewed McCarthy as someone who has already had a chance to lead.

"Raul wanted to move in a bolder direction," Salmon said. "People sent us here to shrink the size of government, adhere to the U.S. Constitution, rein in excessive regulation, fight for lower taxes, get our financial house in order and stop deficit spending. I believe that Labrador was far superior on those issues."

Gosar said he knows Labrador well because they were both elected in 2010 and are members of the tight-knit sophomore class.

"There was a wakeup call last Tuesday (when Cantor lost)," Gosar said. "America is angry about what is happening with this (Obama) administration. They want us to be bold. We weren't sent her to do status quo. We were sent here to hold government accountable."

Salmon estimated that Labrador received about a third of the votes from Republican House members. Although the votes were cast by secret ballot, Salmon helped Labrador count his supporters before the meeting.

Both Salmon and Gosar said they are hopeful McCarthy will learn from Cantor's defeat and do more for average taxpayers and less for big business.

"We'll have to wait and see," Gosar said. "It's really hard to judge people until you see what they do with the job."

Salmon said that House leaders seem less bent on quashing opposing views than they have been in the past. He said that Thursday's meeting was the most open and honest GOP conference meeting he's ever attended.

"I really hope they've gotten the message from last week's election," Salmon said. "I don't think it was just a message for Eric...Time will tell."

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