Tag Archives: Eric Cantor

Democrats suffer a gigantic electoral shock

Something happened to U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley’s inexorable march to the chair occupied by the speaker of the House of Representatives.

He got beat! In a Democratic Party primary no less!

His conqueror is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, a first-time political candidate, a self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist,” a community activist who worked the neighborhoods of Queens and The Bronx in New York City.

Crowley had poured lots of money into this race. He outspent Ocasio-Cortez by about 18 to 1. All that money went for naught, given that Ocasio-Cortez beat Crowley by double digits Tuesday night.

One problem emerged with Crowley’s re-election effort, just as it did in 2014 when Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his Virginia GOP primary contest. It turns out Crowley was more interested in his own political ambition than in the problems facing the constituents who sent him to Congress in the late 1990s. He wanted to push Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi aside; he kept yapping about the need for “new leadership” among the House Democratic caucus.

His hope has been that Democrats could retake the House this year and he — not Pelosi — would be chosen as the next speaker of the House.

Did he care about the home folks? They spoke Tuesday night and delivered their verdict that, nope, he didn’t give a damn about them.

Is there a lesson here. Yep.

Somewhere, the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill is laughing out loud. It was O’Neill who coined the well-worn phrase: “All politics is local.”

Immigration takes center stage

Kevin McCarthy’s election as the new majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives puts the Republican majority in the House in a quandary.

It’s because of the congressional district McCarthy represents.

McCarthy comes from the Bakersfield, Calif., area. It’s a bit like the Texas Panhandle in this sense: They pump oil there, cultivate a lot of farmland, the wind blows a lot and its residents are fairly conservative. One more thing: the region has a large and growing Hispanic population.

And that is why Majority Leader McCarthy is facing a bit of a test as he tries to manage one key issue: immigration reform.


The tea party wing of the lawmakers he leads in the House don’t favor the kind of comprehensive reform that many Democrats and Republicans want. It’s the kind of reform that former leader Eric Cantor has supported — and which might have cost him his House seat in that stunning GOP primary upset in Virginia earlier this month.

McCarthy, though, doesn’t work for the tea party wing of his party in the House. He works for the folks back home. His congressional district is about 36 percent Hispanic. My hunch is that many of them have relatives who are non-citizens living in the United States. They want their immigrant kin to be able to enjoy the fruits of citizenship.

They vote and, thus, could apply pressure to Leader McCarthy as he seeks to manage the unwieldy wing of his fractious Republican congressional caucus.

So, the new leader well might be asking himself: For whom do I work?

He knows the answer, and it isn’t the Republican Party zealots in Washington, D.C.

Cantor shows flashes of grace

I awoke this morning awaiting the Sunday news talk shows and figured one of the guests would be U.S. House Majority Leader (for the time being) Eric Cantor, R-Va.

What I didn’t quite anticipate was the grace that Cantor demonstrated as he answered Question No. 1 from all the talk show hosts who interviewed him: How in the world did you manage to lose that Republican Party congressional primary race this past week to someone no one believed had a chance?


I’ll stipulate up front that I am no fan of Cantor. I long have considered him to be a classic obstructionist who seemed more in love with the sound of his voice than he was in the doing the job he was sent to do, which is legislate on behalf of his congressional district and, yes, the rest of the country.

He lost this past Tuesday to a Randolph-Macon College economics professor, Dave Brat, who pounded Cantor mercilessly over immigration reform. Brat opposes it; Cantor supported some version of it. Brat also bloodied Cantor badly over the lawmaker’s seeming indifference to the cares and concerns of his constituents.

Thus, Brat beat Cantor in a turnout of something like 13 percent of Republicans in the 7th Congressional District of Virginia.

I didn’t hear Cantor utter a single harsh word about his opponent today. He didn’t gripe about being mischaracterized. Nor did I hear him accuse Brat of lying about his record.

Instead, I watched him take his lumps like a man and vow to stay engaged in the political process in the future, but as someone acting on the sidelines.

There’s something gratifying about watching someone demonstrate how to be a gracious loser.

Brat vs. Trammell

David Brat vs. Jack Trammell will become, I guarantee, the most watched contest for the U.S. House of Representatives in this election cycle.

It’s not because either of them has a sparkling political resume. Or that they’ve made huge names for themselves in their shared occupation. It’s because one of them, Brat, knocked off one of the most powerful members of Congress in the Republican Party primary this past week in the most stunning upset in anyone’s memory. In doing so, Brat has leveled the playing field significantly for Trammell, his Democratic opponent this fall, to possibly win a seat in the Virginia congressional district that has been thought to be strongly Republican.


This one’s going to be a mind-blower.

Brat and Trammell are professors at a college I’d never heard of before this past week. Brat teaches economics, Trammell teaches sociology at Randolph-Macon College. You haven’t heard of it, either? I didn’t think so.

I’m sure it’s a fine school.

Back to Brat and Trammell.

Brat’s victory was a stunner. He was outspent by a gazillion to one by lame-duck House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The turnout for the GOP primary was dismal, which suited Brat just fine. His supporters were the more dedicated bunch, which always bodes well for a low-turnout election.

He campaigned essentially on a single issue: immigration reform. He’s against it. Cantor was for some version of reform. Brat accused Cantor of favoring “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. The label stuck to Cantor like Velcro.

Trammell? I know nothing about the guy, except that he’s as much of a political novice as Brat.

He is a last-minute candidate. Democrats were without a chance if Cantor had won. He didn’t. Now they think they’ve got a puncher’s chance against Brat. But as Politico.com reports, Trammell’s gone into a “lockdown” since the GOP primary. I reckon he’s starting to assemble something resembling a campaign strategy for the 7th Congressional District of Virginia.

He’d better roll something impressive. The eyes of the nation will be upon both of these guys.

Take care of the home folks

Memo to congressional incumbents all across this great land: You’d better pay careful attention to the people you represent in Washington, D.C.

That might be the most significant takeaway from U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning, Earth-shaking defeat this week in his race for Congress from Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.


I still haven’t grasped fully what happened back in Virginia this week, when political novice David Brat smoked Cantor by 11 percentage points in a low-turnout Republican primary election.

Still, I keep reading from those close to the situation that Cantor had become too much a Man of Washington and less of a Man of the People Back Home. Perhaps they grew tired of him standing in front of those banks of microphones among House GOP leaders. Maybe they didn’t think it mattered to them that their guy was part of the GOP caucus elite in the House and that he was in line to become the next speaker of the House when John Boehner decided he’d had enough fun.

OK, now pay attention here, House Armed Services Committee Chairman-to-be Mac Thornberry.

You’re going to win re-election this November from the 13th Congressional District of Texas. You’re also likely to become chairman of a powerful House committee when the next Congress convenes in January.

This is just me talking, Mac, but you’d better start scheduling a lot of town hall meetings and photo ops back home in your district well in advance of the next congressional election, which occurs in 2016.

If Eric Cantor — one of the House’s more conservative members — can get outflanked on the right by a novice, then it can happen to anyone, it seems to me.

It well might be that in this political climate, no member of Congress — no matter how powerful and media savvy they are — is immune from the kind of political earthquake that swallowed Eric Cantor whole.

Yep, that means you, too, Rep. Thornberry.

Texas GOP's madness is catching on

It now appears that the Texas Republican Party’s insanity is a communicable disease.

The madness has taken hold of the Virginia GOP, which this week booted a tea party congressional heavyweight out of office in favor of someone who’s even more in the tea party camp.

Go figure that one out.


Donna Brazile, a noted Democratic strategist and talking head for CNN and other media outlets, believes the tea party wing of the Republican Party can declare victory in its civil war with the establishment. The battle’s over, at least for now, says Brazile.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had his head handed to him by political novice David Brat. Cantor outspent Brat by a lot and still lost. Brat now is the favorite to win the House seat that Cantor occupied for seven terms.

If the tea party can knock Cantor off his feet, well, the Republican Party that many of us have grown to know and respect — at some level, at least — is a goner.

Texas Republicans met this past week and passed a party platform that includes a lot of extreme right-wing planks, one of which is to endorse something called “reparative therapy” that is supposed to persuade gay people to become, well, no longer gay.

By my way of thinking, that is a sure sign that the Texas GOP had gone around the bend.

What I guess I didn’t realize — until this week’s returns came in from Virginia — is that other state Republicans have been similarly afflicted. I had thought the tea party had talked itself out of business.

It’s ba-a-a-ck.

Cantor loss leaves mixed feelings

Eric Cantor’s stunning loss Tuesday almost seems like a punch line in one of those “good news, bad news” gags.

You walk up to a Democrat and say, “Hey, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. What’s the good news? Well, the good news is that Eric Cantor was defeated in the Republican Party primary race for Congress; that means he won’t be around much longer to obstruct legislation at every turn.

“The bad news is that the guy who beat him will be even more of an obstructionist.”

That’s how I’m feeling just a few hours after Cantor got drummed out of office by a college professor, Dave Brat, who was running for political office for the very first time — and who got outspent a zillion-to-one by the well-heeled incumbent.

Cantor’s never been my favorite member of Congress. I always thought the tea party wing of the GOP loved the guy. Didn’t he boast about being one of them? Wasn’t he proud of the votes he cast to oppose initiatives proposed by his Democratic colleagues?

Well, it turned out that immigration was the deal breaker for tea party zealots. Cantor signed on to a version of the Dream Act pushed by President Obama. That did it as far as the tea party faithful went. They would have none of that.

Dave Brat seized on it and won by 11 percentage points.

I would be glad to see Cantor go except that the guy who’s now favored to win the House seat is even more extreme than the guy he beat.

And that, I submit, is really and truly saying something.

Cantor loss deals blow to campaign reform

The thought occurred to me this morning after I awoke from a good night’s sleep.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning loss Tuesday to tea party candidate Dave Brat in the Virginia Republican Party primary Tuesday might have dealt a serious blow to the cause of campaign finance reform.

Why? Cantor outspent his Brat by something like 25 to 1 in a losing bid to keep his congressional seat.

Cantor was the well-funded superstar within the Republican Party. He had it all: looks, brains, the “right” ideology,” a gift of gab, ambition. You name it, he had it.

He also had money. Lots of it, which he spent lavishly to hold on to his House seat.

None of it worked. Brat is a college professor who’s never run for public office at any level.

Yet he beat Cantor by 11 percentage points in a shamefully low voter-turnout primary.

What happens, then, to effort to limit campaign spending? The argument always has been that money buys votes, that it buys people’s loyalty, and that it gives deep-pocketed donors more influence than Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe in setting public policy.

Dave Brat’s stunner in Virginia has just blown the daylights out of those arguments.

Let that discussion get fired up all over again.

Tea party fights back, ousts (gulp!) Rep. Cantor

My bad.

I’ve been among those who’ve talked openly about the seeming demise of the tea party wing of the Republican Party everywhere but in Texas.

Oops. Something really, really weird has happened back in Ol’ Virginny. U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Reps and someone who knows the tea party playbook by heart, has been beaten for re-election by a first-time candidate for any public office.


Dave Brat is now the Republican nominee for Congress from the Richmond, Va., area.

Cantor was thought to be the next speaker of the House once John Boehner decided he’d had enough fun in Congress. Cantor also was known to be a staunch conservative lawmaker.

No one saw this coming. No one predicted Cantor would lose. No one even predicted even a close race. It turns out it wasn’t that close after all; the challenger won with a comfortable margin, for crying out loud.

I’m going to take some time now to catch my breath and try to understand what this means to the congressional political balance of power.

If I were Speaker Boehner, I just might start thinking even more seriously about quitting. He’s griped already about how the tea party wing of his GOP House caucus is making his life so miserable. Well, Mr. Speaker, it’s going to get really nasty.

Phone call symbolizes enmity

A simple phone call, that’s all it was supposed to be.

But now, as Politico.com has noted, the two principals in that conversation cannot even agree on its nature.

President Obama blistered congressional Republicans over their refusal to enact comprehensive immigration reform; then he telephoned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Did the two men talk about immigration reform or did they, as the White House said, exchange pleasantries as the president wished Cantor, who is Jewish, a happy Passover?


Cantor responded to Obama’s attack with one of his own.

To be honest, I’m wishing a plague on both sides of this matter.

I’m also believing Cantor is right that the president and his team still haven’t learned how to work with the very people they need to enact their agenda, namely the members of Congress who happen to be from the other party.

It’s fair, however, to wonder whether the president simply has run out of patience with the loyal opposition.

The testy exchange went like this, according to Politico.com:

“The president called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together,” Cantor said in a statement. “After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue,” he continued.

The president had said this earlier:

“Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform. Instead of advancing common-sense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from ‘Dreamers.'”

Both sides keep talking past each other, even as they insist it’s time to start working together.

There isn’t a Lyndon Johnson or Everett Dirksen among any of them.