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Conservative lawmaker jumps into House GOP leadership race

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US Representative Raul Labrador talks to reporters gathered to ask members about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Republican primary election defeat in a hallway of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 11, 2014. (Reuters)

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador confirmed Friday he was jumping into the race to be the next House majority leader – a position being vacated by Rep. Eric Cantor who was defeated during Virginia’s GOP primary election earlier this week.

The decision sets up a race next week between Labrador, a leading conservative voice, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the current House majority whip from California.

Labrador was elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave that gave the GOP control of the House. He was one of 87 freshmen Republicans elected to Congress that year. 

"I want a House Leadership team that reflects the best of our conference," Labrador said in a statement Friday.

Labrador’s candidacy is likely to be symbolic for conservatives. Many Washington watchers say a victory for Labrador is a longshot.  

The election for the No. 2 House GOP leadership post will be Thursday.

Labrador says Americans don't think their leaders in Washington are listening to them.

"I was stunned when Eric Cantor lost his primary election earlier this week,” Labrador said. “Eric is a good friend and I have tremendous respect for him.  But the message from Tuesday is clear - Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”

Cantor was widely viewed as an eventual successor to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. His failure to be renominated for his seat in Congress has fired up conservatives who say Cantor and other GOP leaders have been too accommodating to President Obama and Democrats.

Labrador also said that House Republicans need leaders who "can help unite and grow our party."

McCarthy is currently House GOP whip, his party's No. 3 post. He has a more moderate voting record than Labrador and has developed strong ties to many colleagues by raising money for their campaigns.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.