Michael Steele: Labrador Move Proof Tea Party Has 'a Voice Here'

Friday, 13 Jun 2014 07:19 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Rep. Raul Labrador's challenge of fellow Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy for the position of House Majority Leader is proof positive the tea party is alive and well on Capitol Hill, says Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and co-host of "Steele & Ungar" on SiriusXM radio.

"I salute Congressman Labrador for getting into this race. The tea party caucus does have a voice here; they have a play here. Raul appropriately represents that,'' Steele, who chaired the RNC from 2009-2011, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"At the end of the day, McCarthy is quintessential establishment and you really are beginning to hear … a lot of conservatives saying, 'Wait a minute, didn't you take the lesson from what happened in Virginia?'''

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Cantor, who was expected to eventually replace John Boehner as House speaker, was soundly defeated in his Virginia primary this week by little-known college professor Dave Brat, a tea-party activist.

Tea party activists took it as sign that reports of their demise within the GOP have been greatly exaggerated.

Rick Ungar, Steele's co-host, agreed that the Republican establishment can't ignore their more conservative brethren.

"I was shocked that McCarthy wrapped it up so quickly and that the tea party caucus was backing off so easily,'' Ungar said.

"I'm a big believer in the old adage, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. If I were John Boehner … I absolutely would have been looking for the right tea party congressman to fill that job.

"I was shocked that it wasn't happening. I don't know if Labrador can win, but they ought to at least put on a show.''

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