Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Loss in Virginia Throws GOP Leadership Into Disarray

Boehner Speaks To Press After GOP Conference MeetingThe defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by the far right Tea Party challenger Dave Brat in Virginia throws the leadership of the House GOP into disarray, as a number of Representatives now jockey for Cantor’s seat and the top spot held by Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

A newcomer to politics, Brat managed to make the extremely conservative Cantor appear too liberal by portraying him as soft on immigration, accusing the No. 2 Republican in the GOP-led House of supporting immigration legislation that would give “amnesty” to millions of people living illegally in the United States.

“If you go knocking door to door, you’ll know the American people think they’re in trouble,” Brat told Fox News after his huge upset. “It was a miracle. God gave us this win.”

A Princeton graduate and seminary student who teaches at Randolph-Macon College, a small liberal arts school north of Richmond, Brat trounced Cantor by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent. According to Fox, there were 18,000 more votes were cast in Tuesday’s primary than in 2012, when Cantor easily beat Floyd Bayne, another Tea Party-backed challenger.

While Brat acknowledged that he had received Tea Party support, he tried to play down the Tea Party aspect, saying he was focused on Republican principles including free markets and “adherence to the Constitution.”

“It’s disappointing,” Cantor said in his concession speech in Richmond. “But I believe in this country. I believe there is opportunity around the next corner.”

The House GOP must now figure out how to go forward after losing its leading contender to take over Boehner’s speakership. Some Republicans were calling on Cantor to step down before November so that the transition can move forward, but others like Trey Gowdy of South Carolina pushed back.

“It may be to their own detriment to be impolitely ambitious right now,” Gowdy said of his colleagues. “And whoever runs will need to explain precisely what Eric did wrong. He was very popular within the conference. That doesn’t help win a district in Virginia, but he was very popular in our conference.”

With Cantor’s loss, most Washington insiders expect that there won’t be any progress on major legislation for the rest of the year. This is unfortunate, since this Congress will go down in history as the least productive ever.

“I’m concerned the Ted Cruzes of the world, the Rand Pauls of the world are going to use this as an excuse to basically stop the government from functioning,” Rep. Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Wednesday.

The leadership of the Republican Party is currently occupied by members from Ohio, Virginia, California, and Washington—all states that voted for President Obama. This is upsetting to conservative Republicans from solidly red states, who believe they now deserve representation — if not domination.

The New York Times listed members who will be jockeying for leadership roles, such as Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Pete Sessions of Texas, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Tom Price of Georgia.


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