Historic Loss: House Majority Leader Cantor Loses Virginia Primary To Tea Party's Brat

Tyler Durden's picture

While The Tea Party had been relatively aggressive in the race, it is still quite shocking to the establishment that the second-highest House Republican just got unseated (despite outspending Brat by a ratio of 20-to-1) by a local tea-party-backed economics professor:

  • *HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER CANTOR LOSES VIRGINIA REPUBLICAN PRIMARY
  • *DAVID BRAT BEATS CANTOR IN VIRGINIA PRIMARY, AP REPORTS
  • *TEA PARTY CHALLENGER BEATS SECOND-HIGHEST HOUSE REPUBLICAN: AP

Echoing Europe's dissatisfaction with the status quo, it appears the announcement of the death of the Tea Party was a little premature. Cantor was elected to Congress in 2000... looks like we have to add one to initial jobless claims this week.

 

Early...

With 90% counted...

 

 

Via The Hill,

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the Speaker-in-waiting who was bidding for his seventh term in Congress, was defeated in a primary election by a little-known conservative economics professor, David Brat, in one of the most stunning upsets in modern political history.

 

Brat defeated Cantor despite having no experience in elected office and despite Cantor outspending him by a margin of nearly 20-to-1. The Associated Press called the race for Brat shortly after 8 p.m., an hour after polls closed in Virginia's 7th district. Brat was leading Cantor, 56 percent to 44 percent, with 80 percent precincts reporting.

 

For Cantor, the loss marks an abrupt end to a fast rise through the House leadership, a path that many expected would make him the first Jewish Speaker in U.S. history.

 

And it is perhaps the most significant jolt to the Republican establishment since the emergence of the Tea Party in 2009. While conservative activists have ousted veteran Republicans like Sens. Bob Bennett (Utah) and Richard Lugar (Ind.), a sitting majority leader has never been defeated in a primary election.

 

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Wary of allowing Tea Party groups to turn his district into a top battleground, Cantor unleashed a an early and heavy barrage of negative ads against Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College who previously lost a race for the state legislature. Cantor spent more than $1 million on the primary and attacked Brat as a “liberal” who served on an advisory board for former Gov. Tim Kaine at a time when the Democrat was pushing tax increases.

 

In the waning days of the race, conservative radio stars Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin boosted Brat and condemned Cantor for backing “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. The attacks came even as Cantor was under fire from advocates of immigration reform for his refusal to bring legislation to the House floor that would offer legal status for undocumented immigrants.

 

 

 

 

Meet The Man Who Just Crushed Eric Cantor (via ABC)

Brat, who admits that he has supported several Cantor candidacies over the years, says he mounted his improbable primary campaign because the House GOP's No. 2 leader has lost touch with his constituents, "veering from the Republican creed."

"Years ago he had a good conservative track record, but now he's veered off," Brat told ABC News during an interview on Capitol Hill. "If you go to Heritage and look at their score, I think he's at about a 53 right now. I mean, that's an F-minus."

Heritage Action's scorecard tracks Republican votes, co-sponsorships and other legislative activity to gauge how conservative members of Congress are performing. Cantor actually receives a 52 percent, which ranks seventh among eight Virginia House Republicans.

While a recent profile of the race in the Washington Post characterized Brat as "a potential threat," the quirky challenger knows he has a tough road to victory in the June 10 primary.

"Most of these [primary] races don't kick in until about 30 days prior," he said. "Now everyone's looking, what's the race? It's an open primary and it's just Eric and I on the ticket."

Brat, 49, isn't the first primary challenger Cantor has faced. The Richmond Republican smoked primary challenger Floyd Bayne in 2012 by nearly 60 percentage points before cruising to a 17-point victory in the general election.

But with low primary turnout (just 47,000 voters turned out in the primary two years ago) and anti-incumbency fervor at an all-time high, Cantor's team says they aren't overlooking Brat, although they "don't see him getting a great deal of traction."

"We're on the ground, running the campaign," Cantor campaign spokesman and senior strategist Ray Allen said in a phone interview. "We take every figure seriously and do our own due diligence. It is what it is."

Brat claims "the money is flowing in right now," expanding an underwhelming campaign war chest that he last reported contained just $40,000.

"The race was once viewed as a long-shot, [but] it's tightening now," Brat said. "We're well over double, triple what we had on the books just a month ago and so now we're getting the national attention I always hoped."

Brat complained that Cantor, 50, has a "crony-capitalist mentality" to take care of the corporate sector ahead of the interests of small businesses.

"On the conservative scorecard, on the free market votes, he's doing everything wrong," Brat said. "He's not following what folks in his district want him to do and it's hurting the country."

Allen described Brat as "a weird duck" and criticized him for serving on then-Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine's Joint Advisory Board of Economists.

"Eric Cantor is a conservative leader," Allen, who has advised Cantor's campaigns since 1991, said. "[Brat] doesn't like being called a liberal college professor, but that's what he is and what he's always been. Tea Party conservatives don't serve as an economic adviser to Tim Kaine."

Brat calls himself as a "free market guy," and says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also pledged never to increase taxes and to stick to a five-year promise not to vote to increase the debt limit.

"This isn't a personal race. I'm not running against Eric," he stressed. "I'm just running on the founding principles that Adam Smith and free markets - they made us the greatest nation on the Earth. All right? It's no mystery. Our rights, tradition, along with free markets and the Judeo-Christian tradition all together made us the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. I think we're veering off course a little bit there and I want to get us back on that course that brought us to greatness."

If Brat ultimately wins the primary and is seated in the 114 th Congress, he would not commit his vote for speaker to House Speaker John Boehner, but offered his support to any contender who's "more free market and more fiscally responsible."

"I'd have to take a good look at what they're doing but I support people who follow the Republican creed, and so it doesn't look like the leadership is doing a good job on that right now," Brat said.

"They're not free market at all, right? They do not take free market seriously and they're off on fiscal responsibility."

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And the social reactions come pouring in: