June 11, 2014. Richmond, VA. The third most powerful member of the House of Representatives, and the second most powerful Republican, lost his primary race for re-election last night. With a result that shocked the nation, Virginia’s GOP Congressman Eric Cantor was soundly defeated by a little-known challenger with no money and no experience. Here’s how it happened and what it means for the rest of the election season.
Challenger David Brat (L) defeated incumbent Rep Eric Cantor (R) in Virginia’s primary yesterday. Image courtesy of WTVR.com.
With 100% of precincts reported, Tea Party challenger David Brat received 36,110 (55%) to incumbent Republican Rep. Eric Cantor’s 28,898 (45%). The Virginia district covers the suburbs of Richmond and has a total population of 757,917. It was also gerrymandered by Republicans after the 2010 census and is now made up of roughly 60% GOP voters. Those are the ‘tangibles’. Now, here are the ‘intangibles’, or the 8 reasons Rep Eric Cantor lost his Primary Election last night.
First, it’s worth mentioning that before readers run to corporate news networks like CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC for news on this story, every one of those networks has spent the last year saturating their coverage with the promise that the crazy Tea Party wing of the GOP is dead and last night’s result could never happen. They’re all shocked this morning, calling it, “the political upset of our lifetime.” But it wasn’t. In fact, we at Whiteout Press predicted this outcome months ago, although we believed losses by powerful Congressmen like Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) would be the major shockers. But then, there’s still time and the 2014 elections are only beginning.
8 Reasons Rep Cantor lost his Primary
1. GOP Civil War
The Republican Party is always fighting an internal three-way civil war with the party made up of three distinct factions - social/religious, libertarian/Constitutional, corporate/billionaire. And while America’s political pundits warned that the social/religious wing would break away and form its own party, it is actually the corporate/billionaire wing that left the Republican Party this year. With Wall Street Republicans and GOP fundraisers openly backing Democrat Hillary Clinton, it’s left little fuel in the fires of the party’s billionaire wing and plenty of reasons for the rest of the party to punish its pro-Wall Street establishment leaders, like Rep. Eric Cantor.
2. Took victory for granted
Eric Cantor’s surprise defeat last night at the hands of college professor David Brat wasn’t only a shock to the national media, it was also a surprise to Congressman Cantor and his supporters. The New York Times reported this morning, ‘Republicans were so sure that Mr. Cantor would win that most party leaders had been watching for how broad his victory would be.’ It wasn’t until a couple weeks before yesterday’s vote that the House Majority Leader changed his advertising message and shifted manpower from his Washington DC office back to his home district in Virginia. By then, it was too late.
When GOP voters who said they cast a ballot for David Brat were asked why they did so, the answers were universally anti-Eric Cantor and not pro-David Brat. And the number one reason cited, based on informal reporting and not actual polling, was Rep. Cantor’s constant absence from his own district. As a member of the party apparatus, the House Majority Leader was spending his time campaigning for other Republican candidates around the country and all but ignoring his own re-election campaign. Even prior to the campaign, voters frustratingly pointed out Cantor’s constant absence and refusals to take part in local events and town hall meetings.
4. Playing both sides
It’s one thing for an elected official to take both sides of the same issue depending on who they’re talking to at that particular moment. But it’s another thing to try and do that on the election’s number one hottest issue - illegal immigration. We know that this primary was basically a single-issue election because the victor, Professor David Brat, basically ran a one-topic campaign and that topic was immigration. For the past two years, possibly longer, voters in the district have noticed that when Rep. Cantor is in Washington, he’s supportive of citizenship for illegal immigrants. But when he’s back home in Virginia, he’s vehemently opposed to it. Many voters wanted to show Mr. Cantor they’re not as stupid as he thinks they are.
5. Few human supporters
The most obvious problem Rep. Eric Cantor had in the month leading up to yesterday’s Primary Election was the fact that he had few human beings supporting his campaign. For decades now, American elections have been all but decided by who has the most money. And while the incumbent had plenty of support from the party apparatus, wealthy donors and Washington insiders, he had few people on the ground in his district. And when you are booed off the stage at your own party’s events because you have no supporters to offset your opponent’s in the crowd, it makes you look very weak and disliked. Eric Cantor learned the first lesson of politics - money doesn’t vote, people do.
The universally condemned practice known as gerrymandering, redrawing district boundaries to give one party a super-majority, is a surprising but legitimate reason Rep. Cantor lost his re-election bid yesterday. His Virginia 7th Congressional district was just redrawn to give Republicans and the incumbent Cantor an overwhelming GOP majority. The problem is that many of those new voters had never voted for Eric Cantor before and were new to the district. With Congressman Cantor paying little attention to his own constituents, those who’d never voted for him before had little reason to do so now. Challenger David Brat at least wanted their vote, and asked for it repeatedly while campaigning next to an empty chair with an empty suit laid across it, reminding voters of the incumbent’s absence neglect.
Attempting to understand their huge loss last night, Washington’s Republican establishment is quietly blaming Democrats for the defeat of one of their most powerful Representatives. Since Eric Cantor rarely had a Primary opponent in past elections, it’s difficult to prove this claim. But the charge is that Democrats voted in the GOP primary specifically to defeat Cantor and give their own candidate a vulnerable, unknown Republican opponent in November. Or, giving voters a bit more credit, perhaps this midterm election is like most others in the past and Democratic voters are fleeing the party in droves, and they already had a longstanding dislike of Rep. Cantor.
Without question, the number one issue in the race between incumbent Rep. Eric Cantor and Tea Party challenger David Brat was illegal immigration. Voters are slowly coming to the same conclusion we at Whiteout Press arrived at a long time ago. America doesn’t have an immigration problem, it has an illegal immigration problem. Two decades ago, Republicans agreed to a national amnesty in exchange for a secure border. Democrats never kept their half of the deal, leaving the border open to flood their party with new foreign voters, thus securing their rule for eternity, or so they thought. With headlines and news reports over the past few days showing tens of thousands of South and Central American children being dumped in cities across America, and with the promise of millions more in the coming months, American voters are slowly coming to the conclusion that America is being invaded. And they want representatives in Washington who aren’t loyal to the invaders.
Republican strategist Brent Bozell may have summed it up best when he was quoted explaining, “Eric Cantor's loss tonight is an apocalyptic moment for the GOP establishment. The grassroots is in revolt and marching." The next question is, are only grassroots Republicans rebelling against the Washington establishment? Or will we see similar shocking defeats of Democrat incumbents as well? With the election season just beginning, we’ll know soon enough.
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