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Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

WOW: Eric Cantor unexpectedly losing to Tea Party challenger; looks like he’s finished

Big, big, big news tonight out of the Old Domin­ion: John Boehn­er’s sec­ond in com­mand in the House Repub­li­can cau­cus, Major­i­ty Leader Eric Can­tor, appears to have unex­pect­ed­ly lost his seat in Con­gress.

Elec­tion results out of Vir­ginia show that Repub­li­can vot­ers in today’s low turnout pri­ma­ry are heav­i­ly favor­ing Can­tor’s Tea Par­ty chal­lenger David Brat, who crit­i­cized Can­tor’s record and promised to take a hard line against com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform if elect­ed. As of 5:20 PM Pacif­ic Time, with two hun­dred and twen­ty-two hun­dred and forty-three precincts report­ing, the results were as follows:

Eric I. Can­tor: 44.62% (26,906 votes)
David A. Brat: 55.38% (33,401 votes)

To call Brat an under­dog would be an understatement.

He had only around $40,000 cash on hand at the end of March, where­as Can­tor has been cam­paign­ing with a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar war chest.

But Brat nev­er­the­less man­aged to cap­i­tal­ize on dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment to eke out the most sur­pris­ing of victories.

As David Nir points out, it was­n’t like Can­tor had ignored Brat’s can­di­da­cy:

Can­tor ran mul­ti­ple attack ads against Brat, but Brat suc­cess­ful­ly made his out­right hos­til­i­ty to immi­gra­tion reform the cen­ter­piece of the cam­paign, accus­ing Can­tor of sup­port­ing “amnesty” and putting him on the defensive.

What makes this result even more stun­ning is that a pair of late polls showed Can­tor with con­sid­er­able leads: An inde­pen­dent sur­vey from Vox Pop­uli had him up 52–39, while Can­tor’s own inter­nal from McLaugh­lin & Asso­ciates gave him an even wider 62–28 advan­tage. But as we not­ed, McLaugh­lin is one of the worst poll­sters in the busi­ness, and boy, did they cement that rep­u­ta­tion tonight.

“Obvi­ous­ly, we came up short,” a dis­ap­point­ed Can­tor said to his sup­port­ers at his elec­tion night gath­er­ing, which appeared to have turned into a very somber affair. “I know there’s a lot of long faces here tonight, and I know it’s dis­ap­point­ing, sure.”

He did not con­cede or acknowl­edge his oppo­nent in his remarks.

The Com­mon­wealth of Vir­ginia has what’s called a sore los­er law, pro­hibit­ing Can­tor from run­ning as an inde­pen­dent to hold his seat. Can­tor thus has no way of appear­ing on the Novem­ber bal­lot, as he sought the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion in the 7th Dis­trict, but did­n’t get it. His only option, if he want­ed to keep his seat, would be to run as a write-in can­di­date, like Lisa Murkows­ki did in Alas­ka in 2010.

Murkows­ki did win her write-in cam­paign, but she had a lot of help from Alaska’s many Native Amer­i­can tribes, which ral­lied behind her and helped her over­come Joe Miller. Were Can­tor to run as a write-in can­di­date, he might just end up siphon­ing enough votes away from Brat to allow Brat’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent to win.

I’ve already heard this elec­tion being called an “earth­quake”; but I think that’s a bad anal­o­gy. Earth­quakes are a nat­ur­al phe­nom­e­non. Elec­tions are not. Elec­tions are a human inven­tion and are decid­ed by humans.

Look at the num­ber of votes above. More peo­ple live in the City of Kirk­land, Wash­ing­ton, than have vot­ed so far in his pri­ma­ry. This was a pri­ma­ry elec­tion decid­ed by a rel­a­tive­ly small num­ber of people.

Will it have con­se­quences? Of course it will. It will like­ly increase the strength and clout of the zeal­ous, uncom­pro­mis­ing Tea Par­ty fac­tion with­in the House Repub­li­can cau­cus… the same fac­tion that shut down our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment last fall.

Of course, it’s worth remem­ber­ing that Can­tor was on bet­ter terms with that fac­tion than John Boehn­er was, more often tak­ing their side.

“The Tea Par­ty is so angry it does­n’t even like its own pup­pet,” said Ari Mel­ber, react­ing to the news of Can­tor’s defeat on MSNBC.

Can­tor’s loss will also prob­a­bly destroy what­ev­er will­ing­ness or enthu­si­asm there was for com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform with­in the caucus.

Brat’s gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent, Demo­c­rat Jack Tram­mell, declared him­self ready for a spir­it­ed, live­ly cam­paign in a state­ment issued through the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of the Com­mon­wealth of Virginia.

“I am hon­ored and hum­bled to accept the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion in Virginia’s 7th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict. I am run­ning because I believe Vir­gini­ans are hun­gry for a rad­i­cal change from the dys­func­tion­al and reck­less pol­i­tics being prac­ticed by those in Con­gress – and the results of tonight’s pri­ma­ry elec­tion are the proof.

“In the com­ing months, I look for­ward to a spir­it­ed cam­paign where can talk about the issues that mat­ter to our com­mu­ni­ty, and how we can get Con­gress re-focused on the pri­or­i­ties that tru­ly mat­ter to us,” Tram­mell concluded.

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4 Comments

  1. It’s hard to know how to spin this oth­er than it was a vic­to­ry of sorts for grass roots politics.

    # by Mike Barer :: June 11th, 2014 at 6:39 AM
  2. How Dems plot­ted Can­tor’s demise.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/06/ben-cooter-jones_n_5463196.html

    For­mer con­gress­man Ben Jones (D‑Ga.), bet­ter known as “Coot­er” from Dukes of Haz­zard, has a plan to knock Eric Can­tor out of the House. He’s urg­ing his fel­low Democ­rats to cross over and vote for a tea par­ty-backed can­di­date in Vir­gini­a’s pri­ma­ry election. 

    Coot­er, who ran against Can­tor in 2002, has penned an open let­ter call­ing upon Democ­rats in his for­mer Vir­ginia dis­trict to vote in the open pri­ma­ry next Tues­day for tea par­ty oppo­nent Dave Brat in order to defeat U.S. House Major­i­ty Leader Cantor. 

    Cross­ing par­ty lines to vote in an open pri­ma­ry has a long tra­di­tion in the solid­ly one-par­ty South, Coot­er argues in his let­ter. “y vot­ing for David Brat in the Sev­enth Dis­trict Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry, we Democ­rats, inde­pen­dents, and Lib­er­tar­i­ans can make a big dif­fer­ence in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics,” he argues. “It is your right to cast that vote. It is an ‘open’ pri­ma­ry and it doesn’t pre­clude any­one from vot­ing any­way they wish in Novem­ber. It may be the only way to empow­er those who want to make a state­ment about the dys­func­tion­al Con­gress and ‘pol­i­tics as usual.’ ”

    # by Martha Koester :: June 11th, 2014 at 10:27 AM
  3. Good rid­dance, Eric.

    # by Joellen Shickey :: June 17th, 2014 at 9:43 PM
  4. Heh. Can­tor deserved his fate.

    # by Sharice Prodze :: July 2nd, 2014 at 8:10 PM
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