Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Establishment Loses Another One As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Goes Down to Defeat

Just weeks after being declared for dead, Tea Party Republicans pull off another victory, this time a stunner as Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) lost 56-44 to college economics professor Dave Brat.

Cantor outraised his opponent $5,447,290 to $206,663.  The congressman reported spending more at steakhouses than Brant spent on his campaign.

An internal poll had shown Cantor with a 62-28 lead in late May.  Just eight days before the election Cantor's lead had shrunk to 52-40.

It appears that Cantor's mixed support for immigration reform, labeled as "amnesty" by opponents, played a role in his defeat.  But that may be overblown.  On the same day that Cantor was losing, another immigration reform supporter, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was cruising to re-election.  Further, Cantor support by immigration reform group was tepid at best.  The on-line political publication The Daily Beast reports:
The pro-immigration reform group America's Voice went out of its way to distance itself from Cantor. Frank Sperry, the group's executive director said," Let’s be clear: Eric Cantor was no friend of immigration reform.  He’s been the main person in the House blocking a vote on citizenship, and he proudly campaigned on his opposition to reform . . .Cantor has always seemed more interested in his own rise to House speaker than in tending to his district.  It appears the primary voters decided he was out of touch.
The Daily Beast reports on one eyewitnesses opinion on what lead to Cantor's stunning loss:
One Virginia Republican familiar with the race suggested that Cantor's loss was due to "a perfect storm" brought about by the fact that Cantor seemed to be schooled in "the George Armstrong Custer school of tactics as opposed to Sung Tzu school." The Republican suggested that while immigration was a factor, the bigger issues were internal party politics. As opposed to other Virginia Republicans in Congress, Cantor didn't show the most basic respect to Tea Partiers in his district. It wasn't about Cantor's votes but rather that he didn't even show up to explain himself and get yelled at. If the Majority Leader, who was the only Jewish Republican on Capitol Hill, had paid more attention to the words of Woody Allen, who said "80 percent of life is showing up," he would be in much better political shape.
It appears that Cantor simply had a tin ear for the increasing populism within the Republican Party.  Simply catering to corporate America and getting a 100% rating from the Chamber of Commerce is not enough to ensure a Republican nomination anymore.  You have to actually listen to working men and women in your district.  And that's a good thing.

7 comments:

Pete Boggs said...

Graham "competed" in a likely establishment split field. We know how that works- don't we?

Ideologically, in consent of the governed terms; head to head, clean contests don't favor RINO-CRATS.

Historically, how does discontent of the governed work out for everyone; including the tyrant class? Every circumvention of representative consent is an uncivil act which builds discontent of the governed. History says it doesn't end well...

It's somehow hard math for the RINO / establishment, that their amnesty / immigration scheme is inversely & exponentially proportionate to emigration of the base or Tea Party.

Indy Student said...

Graham won 60% of the vote. It wouldn't have mattered if the non-Graham voters unified behind one candidate.

LamLawIndy said...

Cantor forgot Tip O'Neil's sage advice: all politics is local.

Stephen R. Diamond said...

How could the issue _not_ have been immigration, given the timely occurrence of a crisis involving the mass immigration of minors encouraged by leniency toward "dreamers"?

Pete Boggs said...

IS: When a field is split 7 ways, so are resources & attention. RINO-CRATS avoid tete a tete competition; where they can't compete...

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

Look at the paltry number of votes cast in this primary and your argument falls apart, Paul.

Stephen R. Diamond said...

One more thought, Paul. Under the assumption that Cantor lost because of his immigration position, the failure of the Tea Party to unseat Graham really isn't that hard to understand: Cantor had announced he was prepared to cut an immigration deal, whereas Graham didn't have this power. The immigration issue was therefore less important in the Graham election.