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June 10, 2014 02:53 PM MDT

Holy Freakin' Breaking News: Eric Cantor Loses in GOP Primary

  • by: Colorado Pols

WEDNESDAY UPDATE #2: Would anyone care to speculate what nationally syndicated conservative pundit Michelle Malkin means by this?

We assume she means Tom Tancredo, since Malkin is a Tancredo endorser, but the Tea Party is feeling kind of bold today. So maybe she means real, honest-to-Pete revolt.


WEDNESDAY UPDATE: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols reports, Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, in his capacity as head of the National Association for Gun Rights, claims victory after Eric Cantor’s defeat:

[A]t least one man is attributing Cantor’s defeat to his unwillingness to defend gun rights — Dudley Brown, the executive director of the National Association for Gun Rights.

Last year, Brown’s group, the national companion organization to his Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, produced a video attacking Cantor for “voting with Obama” on gun control issues and, in a trademark Brown flourish, showing Cantor’s face morphing into President Obama’s…

Tuesday night after Cantor’s defeat, NAGR celebrated on its Facebook page, reminding its 3.7 [million] followers of its role opposing Cantor and, more recently, supporting Brat, who filled out the organization’s survey, which guarantees its support.


Rep. Cory Gardner and friends
Rep. Cory Gardner (far left) won’t be able to visit the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (far right) for much longer.

CNN reports on one of the more shocking and unexpected upsets in recent political history:

In what's being called a political "earthquake," the No. 2 Republican in the House, Eric Cantor, lost his primary on Tuesday to a college professor and tea party neophyte.

Cantor conceded the race with 99% of precincts reporting from the Richmond-area district showing him trailing Dave Brat 56% to 44%, according to the Virginia Secretary of State's website. Turnout was low.

"Obviously we came up short," Cantor said in his concession speech.

"It's disappointing sure but I believe in this country. I believe there is opportunity around the next corner for all of us," said Cantor, whose loss is all the more shocking because he's considered very conservative.

Mark Preston, CNN's executive political editor, said the defeat would have national implications since he has been viewed as ambitious and a potential speaker.

"This came out of nowhere," Preston said.

CNN Political Analyst David Gergen called it an "earthquake" that would "send shockwaves through the Republican ranks."

This is a jaw-dropping defeat for Rep. Eric Cantor, one of the most powerful Members of Congress and a longtime leader among House Republicans. The repercussions will be discussed for days and weeks, but in the short term, this could cause a significant fundraising blow for Republicans around the country; Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner recently completed a nationwide tour of vulnerable Republican Congressional Districts — including CD-6 Rep. Mike Coffman — but Cantor may have trouble getting his calls returned now. The Virginia Republican, and close confidant of Rep. Cory Gardner, is suddenly much less valuable as a fundraiser now, in part because of his own decision to create a House calendar that is among the lightest in history; it is an odd bit of irony that Cantor's reduction of the House workload essentially makes him a "lame duck" already.


74 thoughts on “Holy Freakin’ Breaking News: Eric Cantor Loses in GOP Primary

  1. When I saw this breaking ticker on CNN my brain went in to that cycle that keeps saying "Wow. Just… Wow." Cantor is apparently the first person in the history of US national party leadership positions to lose a primary.

    And Cantor was considered among the most conservative in Republican leadership roles. That he was outflanked to the right by a pseudo-Libertarian theocrat is almost unthinkable.

    1. So unthinkable that the fact that his boy was ousted as district party chair and he himself was roundly booed at a meeting in his own district last month weren't taken to mean he might really be in serious trouble. The feeling seemed to be… sure, there's some dissatisfaction but an incumbent majority leader is too strong to be in real trouble. Bet a lot of Republican pols are going to be doing some thinking about the unthinkable tonight. 

      How quickly Cantor went from second most powerful man in the House, heir apparent to the Speakership and darling of the far right, seen as constanly putting pressure on Boehner from the right, to losing a primary to a guy who all but labeled him a RINO. So much for the establishment vanquishing the Tea Party. Seems like only yesterday, because it pretty much was, that establishment triumph was the big narrative on all the talking head shows. 

      1. …he's reported to be a devout Roman Catholic (who has apparently missed the memos from that Francis dude).  God works in mysterious ways.

        It's the dawn of "The Brat Pack". 

        1. And Cantor is the first House Majority leader in history to lose his own party's primary election and the last Jewish Republican left in Congress. He'll make an interesting historic foot note. 

          The moderate and liberal Republicans, including the Jewish ones, were already gone from both Houses with the exception of Collins who can be seen as at least somewhat moderate. Cantor was the only far right Jewish Republican in congress but, apparently, no longer right enough. Or quite crazy enough, either. That seems to be one of the requirements now in more and more solid red districts.

          1. I (as arguably a fellow, although crappy, Catholic) found it appalling (and unforgivable) for him to on one hand invoke God, scripture, etc., and on the other hand use the young girls fleeing the violence in Honduras and El Salvador as his 'poster children' for extreme immigration issues.  These girls, with an average age of 14, are being tortured, raped and murdered in their homeland.

            That is a humanitarian, not immigration, issue.  This is about failed drug wars, failed trade policies – and our country's williful ignorance to not stay focused on a strong, viable and secure 'Americas'.

              1. Apparently that is the reason so many unaccompanied children are showing up on our borders lately: someone has started the rumor that they'll get legal status.

                Of course the rumor is wrong, and the real reason some of them will get legal status is because of the abuse, but Republicans at least have something to grasp on to with this story. They will, of course, exploit it, distort it, and blame Obama rather than pay attention to the humanitarian issues.

            1. He also says that Christians should integrate capitalism as other philosophies have been integrated into the religion, because it's here to stay and Christians need to be the ones to make it "moral".

              Note to Professor Brat: it's called televangelism and mega-churches, and I would generally say that capitalism got the best of the merger; capitalists, after all, know a lot about mergers.

              1. The impact of mega-churches and rightie Christian media companies like Salem Broadcasting (who seem to own the airwaves in the midwest and south), is hard to overstate.

                Remember the warning from Sinclair Lewis, "When fascism comes to America, it will come carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag."

    1. The creature of Dr. Rovenstein has turned on its creators. 

      I hate to say "I told you so" – oh, wait, no, I don't hate to say that.

      I totally told you so. 

  2. They'll make a lot of hay about how he wasn't conservative enough but the other possibility is that people got tired of being represented by an arrogant dick.  Brat is probably as big a jerk or bigger but he isn't Eric Cantor which is good enough for today.  This could help Democrats because it will freeze Republicans like Coffman in competitive districts from softening their immigration positions which can be fatal in a general election.  Boy talk about a humiliating defeat for Cantor and Republicans trying to find their 2010 Mojo.  This one is going to have repercussions for thier mighty ambition to retake the Senate.

    1. From Chris Cillizza: the House just as well pack up and head home for the season

      House legislative activity will cease.  Again, there wasn't a heck of a lot of grand legislative plans before Cantor's loss. But, that trickle will totally dry up now as Republican members avoid doing anything — literally, anything — that could be used against them in the many primaries still to come this summer and fall.  Members will be afraid of their own shadows.

      1. I have to agree with this. It was widely perceived that House Republicans were steering to the right of their actual beliefs based on the strength of the Tea Party movement; any thoughts of compromise can probably be shelved until at least the November election and probably for some time thereafter.

        Cantor is likely to be uninvited to a lot of campaign events, and he'll be thinking long about what to do with the PAC money he controls. That would be ERIC (Every Republican Is Crucial) PAC and possibly others. Does he keep the PAC going so that he retains influence, or does he distribute the money to other PACs that aren't named after him?

          1. You are right Michael.  Ken Buck is going to be looking over his shoulder after tonight.  Establishment Republicans are on the hot seat in Republican and competitive districts.

            1. And the teabaggers are the minority of all minorities.


              They don't give a shit.


              And I'm happy about that.


              A friend of mine actually lives in Cantor's district and they're doing the happy dance over there. Even Cantor is poison among the actual constitutents.


                1. I think Cory will do OK.  Silver gives him a 40% shot. I think the race will be one of the closer races within a couple points either way and there is way to much time for things to play out to conclude anything other than it will likely be very close.  My guess is Rs pick up 8 seats and this seat is somewhere in the 7-9 range.

                  1. And the Bush Tax Cuts were going to create a cornacopia (millions) of jobs?  Oh and it was going to be this close in the 2012 Presidential race with Romney having a chance to win the state.  Who said that reality has a liberal bias was probably talking about Republican fantasy numbers.  They can't count anything.  Job losses from local control will be in the hundreds of thousands.  The Iraq war was going to cost $2 billion.  Nobody will buy health care insurance from the exchanges.

                    Come back to me with your predictions when you prove that you can do the math correctly on anything including politics.  If this election is going to be about the economy then Gardner is road kill.  He obstructed the recovery of the economy rather an assist and by being the 10th most conservative in the House, he has cemented his position as a social extremist who supports the rights of the Jared and Amanda Millers of the world to have as many guns as they want before they start murdering police officers.  Gardner is even more extreme than you are and your poor math skills give you away as a conversative extremist everytime.

  3. The Virginia GOP is doubling (tripling?) down on the push for "purity".  After losing the governorship by nominating Cuccinelli, it seems they are going to keep nominating wackos until one finally wins.

    Given the success GOP state legislators had in Gerrymandering so many safe seats, it looks like the Tea Party fever could infect even more seats.  Boehner is going to need Dems to pass anything at all, assuming he wants to keep his job as Speaker.  The Nut Wing Caucus will be a constant drag on the nation's perception of the GOP, and will eventually wear out their welcome. At some point, he'll need to disown them and move to the middle.

    1. This seems a solid analysis. Is it really any surprise that the party of Cuccinelli would kick out one of the most powerful members of Congress in favor of a more whacko nobody who will have near zero influence in the House should he be elected?

      1. He'll probably get elected barring some Todd Akin meltdown but he'll be a back bencher with none of the clout of Cantor.  It's a step back for Virginia Republicans.

        1. Make that certainly. This district is too red for a Dem to win unless a third party nut job with a significant following is added to the mix to dilute the Republican vote. Not likely. But, as you say, they've given up a boatload of power  for a nobody back bencher. 

          This shows how irrational the far right really is. They don't believe in governing if it involves any level of compromise, which of course it always does, and they don't care about having a powerful representative in DC to work for their state's benefit. They are zealots who don't care about anything but declaring their zealotry. They won't allow anything that Obama and the Dems might agree with to pass and even if they take the Senate and do away with the filibuster altogether, they still can't get legislation past a presidential veto. 

          They don't care. They'd rather do nothing for their constituents than give an inch. If their constituents are stupid enough to play along they deserve the big fat nothing they're going to get in return but it's really hard luck for the rest of us. The demographic change that's going to wash over these troglodytes can't come soon enough and they can't stop it no matter how hard they fight immigration reform. Which is what sunk Cantor even though he's hardly a champion of path to citizenship. 

          He just wasn't vitriolic enough for people who believe real America is white northern European America. There wouldn't be anything close to this level of hysteria if large numbers of Canadians were coming here illegally.

      2. Obviously the Tea Party is fired up in Cantor's district and will show up in November to support Brat.  I just wonder if the moderate Republican voters will get off the duffs and cross over to vote for the Democratic candidate?  Will Democratic voters be disgusted enough by the prospect of sending Brat to Congress turn out in large numbers in a safe GOP district?  Unlikely, but one can hope.

        1. I doubt it. Here in CD6, for instance, our Republicans and Republican leaning indies weren't, on average, nearly as far right as Tancredo when he was winning elections here but voting R was firmly ingrained and they always voted R regardless. Cantor's district is more conservative then pre-redistricting CD6 was. They'd probably vote for a Republican rock.

          1. Maybe Cantor's ego will get the best of him and he'll run as a write-in? Or maybe he'll do it out of spite? Hell, he's got enough cash, so why not? Either way, there's a cushy think tank job waiting.

    2. Actually. I'm of the opinion that the gerrymandered voters will NOT vote for their R congressassholes, but will vote D because of the lack of action that the R's have done for the past oh, 30-40 years for the people, instead of the corporations.



  4. I wonder how much influence Republican-voting Dems had in Brat's election. Rumor was that they were encouraged to vote in the open Virginia primary, hoping for just this result.

    Has anyone seen this confirmed?

        1. Listened to Brat on Chuck Todd a few minutes ago.  I'll admit, he sounded 'not bad' while he was spouting the platitudes of free markets, taking on Wall Street and the Big Banks, etc.  Then Chuck dove in to the weeds – caught him completely off guard.  He actually said "well Chuck, I haven't formulated that policy yet (regarding minimum wage v. free market).  He then diverted the conversation by saying, "well yes, Chuck, I'd like people in sub-Saharan Africa making $100 dollars per hour, but we'd have to get their productivity up first!!


          Did someone forget to send him the memo that US productivity is off the charts while simultaneously shedding jobs and real wages are going backwards????

          1. He is articulate..which, I suppose you would expect from a college professor. Doesn't make him NOT batshit crazy.

            His victory is a "miracle" from God…??

            Here we go again….


            1. He's clearly couldn't reconcile the first half of his platitudes with the latter part of his 'splainin.  The bonus?  Bill Kristol just called him "The Elizabeth Warren of the Republican Party". 

              Seriously, his response to the details were, "Chuck, I haven't formulated those policies yet". (Chuck was trying to pin him down on whether he supported a minimum wage at any level).  When Chuck responded that it appeared Brat was making the case against a minimum, Brat diverted to "productivity".  Given that I just watched Django Unchained for the first time two days ago, I had to wince. 

              But lots of popcorn.

              1. I saw that movie recently too.  What was it, one paid overseer for about 20 slaves?  That's pretty productive.  Maybe Brat is also contemplating importing those Sub-Saharan workers to "improve" their productivity?

          2. He's an economics professor, and a Libertarian.

            Back here on planet Earth that is pretty crazy, but of course he has an opinion on the minimum wage. He probably has opinions on Austrian Goldbug Extremist economics, too.

            The Tea Party is a horse for Koch brothers to ride Libertarian Anarchists into the Congress. 

  5. Unfortunately, the reality of this win by the Tea Party means that Congress will continue to be stalemated and our nation will suffer the consequences of its inaction. Moderate Republicans will be terrified and looking over their shoulders. Conservative Republicans will be emboldened. Obama will be empowered to act on his own with immigration reform, which is exactly what he should do, as he did with the EPA standards.

    The ramifications for Gardner and Coffman are huge, as are the outcomes of the CD-4 and governor Republican primaries. Gardner and Coffman cannot afford to embrace any kind of immigration reform at this point, without fear of losing their base. Unfortunately for Gardner, he must continue to move from his position as the 10th most conservative member in House, to a more moderate, mainstream candidate to win in CO. His record does not support that move and Udall will continue to hammer Gardner with his record. Flip flops by Coffman and Gardner will now become an issue of the past.

    21% of CO population is Hispanic and half of those are registered voters. It would behoove the Democrats to launch a big effort on getting more Hispanics registered to vote and being sure they turnout in the general.  

    2016 is looking more likely to be a Democratic wave year, no matter who is running for President on the Democratic side. Ted Cruz is apt to be the Republican nominee.

    Time will tell, but the tea leaves don't read anything upbeat for Colorado Republicans this morning.





    1. WTF?

      Are you kidding me with the tired old "We have no GOTV ground game"?

      Exhibit A: 2008  – Presidential and Senate races won

      Exhibit B: 2010 – Senate and Governor wins

      Exhibit C: 2012 – Regain Legislature and Presidential win.

      Quit drinking the Kool-Aid about how Republicans are always better motivators.  They just get more headlines by the mass media who want to push that narrative.

      1. Actually, I was making a national comment — states like Georgia where Dems lead in preference, but lose the elections.  You're right about Colorado, particularly if we can pickup CD6.

  6. Erik Erickson has a less-sweeping impact analysis for why Cantor lost (and it seems to hold water):

    "He and his staff have repeatedly antagonized conservatives. One conservative recently told me that Cantor's staff were the 'biggest bunch of a**holes on the Hill.' … Cantor lost his race because he was running for Speaker of the House of Representatives while his constituents wanted a congressman."

    A Democratic aide who spoke with The Huffington Post largely agreed with this analysis.

    "Cantor became detached from his district and frankly was the least likable politician in Congress," said the staffer. "Most people hate Congress but like their particular Member of Congress — Cantor never met that bar. Erick Erickson was right, the immigration angle is overblown, Cantor never cared about immigration. If anything the GOP Leadership built up expectations on shutting down the government and repealing Obamacare that were inevitably going to come back to bite them. Obamacare is here to stay, everybody knows that, and the monster Eric Cantor helped create came back to destroy him."

    As R36 pointed out, Cantor shouldn't have raised Brat's profile so much through expensive attack ads. But fundamentally, Cantor and his staff were arrogant, delusional SOBs who forgot who put them in power in the first place.

    Recall the off-camera Cantor staffer yelling "No he didn't!" when 60 Minutes asked Cantor about Reagan's having raised taxes?

  7. Oh and BTW, Cantor may be something of a unique case as the agreement on his being an asshole and his entire staff being assholes appears to be near universal across party lines.  Cantor haters (apparently almost everyone who has had any contact with him) will enjoy reading this. All that's missing is a mass "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" bipartisan sing-along.

    1. Notice how nobody talks about how his religion might have hurt him in what amounts to the Bible belt.  What if instead of being not conservative enough, he was simply not Jesus enough?

      1. GG: The other 7 or so times he ran and won he was also Jewish.

        I know progressives like to portray the opposition as being racist or bigoted, but if I were you GG I would look in the mirror before throwing out that nonesense and examine your own issues.

        1. GG's points out that bigotry and religious based racism is prevalent in southern Virginia, and might have been a contributing factor !   Andrew is SHOCKED to hear such a thing, and you all should be ashamed for mentioning it !  SCANDAL !

          The Koch is not pleased with this logic fail Andrew.  Stroke it in the proper way please…

          1. Like Cantor's winning opponent giving that creepy speech repeatedly giving full credit for vanquishing Cantor to God by way of divine miraculous intervention. No subtext there, right?

            There's no question it's hard to be fully accepted by the wacko right without being a Christian. Not being able to carry on about Jesus is awkward.  That's probably at least part of the reason why, as the party has moved farther and farther Christian social conservative right, the number of Jewish Republicans in Congress has dwindled to one and he just got his ass kicked in the Virginia primary. Although, in his particular case there did seem to be bipartisan agreement, including among all the Jewish Dems in congress, that the guy was a total schmuck, so there's that, too in Cantor's particular case.

        2. The other 7 times, Republicans haven't been on such a cleansing rampage.  Substitute 'illegal alien' with 'Jew' and Brat was giving the dog whistle to rejecting outsiders.  Only the pure shall survive a Republican Primary and only the saved are pure.  You can bet that the mass media will be all hush-hush about the religion angle.  Don't want Republicans to lose the Jewish vote.


    2. The other Congresscritter in a safe district, with truly awful constituent services, is Diana Degette. She is infamous for being rude and dismissive of people, particularly from the natural foods/ GMO- questioning community. 

      I support her, voted for her any number of times when I lived in Denver, but she is one of the people who should be looking at Cantor, and thinking, "Maybe I should be nicer to people". 

      1. That's what ultra safe districts tend to do and not just when they're safe R. Unfortunately DeGette can be as awful with constituent service as she pleases. Just Like Lamborn, she can keep her seat as long as she likes. On the plus side, it's so safe many CD1 folks will be volunteering and contributing to Romanoff in CD6. We always got a good many CD1 volunteers even before redisticting when everyone knew we couldn't win. They figured we could use the help, maybe at least make a better showing, and Degette didn't need much.

  8. On the other side of the aisle, here is one surprised dude — Cantor's, er, Brat's opponent in the general:

    Trammell is an assistant professor of sociology and director of disability services at Randolph-Macon, a small liberal arts school near Richmond. He won the Democratic nomination over a conference call last weekend after no other Democrats were willing to take on Cantor, the presumed GOP nominee.

    Read more:

    He hasn't even had time to put together a staff, much less raise any money.

    He was obviously just expecting to run a token race when lightening struck.


    Democrats have been gleeful over Cantor’s loss to Brat, a conservative grass-roots challenger, and there have been some suggestions of a potential opening for a more moderate candidate to win in the general election.

    But this is a district that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won with 57 percent of the vote in 2012. And although the race is now getting tons of attention, national Democrats are still reluctant to put resources behind a first-time candidate.

    1. Democrats did at least part of what Democrats should always do – be sure to fill the slot on the ballot, just in case.

      Trammell just went from a paper candidate to at least "let's give it a thought" overnight because the GOP just sent the whole race off the rails.

  9. Maybe crossover Dems did give the boot to Eric Cantor.

    Interesting post on Kos today– the author has some pretty compelling graphs to prove that "crossover Dems" voting in the Republican primary could indeed have contributed to that 5% margin by which Brat defeated Cantor and cost him his seat.

    The Kos blogger, dreaminonempty, still says that Republican voters who just plain didn't like Cantor contributed most of the down votes. But if you read the comments on this blog, many Dems proudly told of their crossover votes on primary night.


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