Political Earthquake: Unpacking Eric Cantor’s Stunning Primary Defeat

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor goes down in primary defeat to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat. We look at the aftermath in Virginia and Congress.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., delivers his concession speech as his wife, Diana, listens in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, June 10, 2014.  (AP)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., delivers his concession speech as his wife, Diana, listens in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (AP)

Eric Cantor, defeated.  Republican icon.  House Majority Leader.  Lined up to be Speaker of the House.  Gone down in flames in his primary election battle in his congressional district in Virginia.  The winner:  Tea Party purist Dave Brat.  It’s an earthquake in Washington.  House majority leaders don’t lose primaries.  But Cantor has.  The Tea Party was said to be waning.  Not in Cantor’s district.  Money?  Cantor was loaded.  Brat was not.  Brat won.  Now come the aftershocks, on Capitol Hill and beyond.  This hour On Point:  the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

— Tom Ashbrook


Jeff Schapiro, reporter and columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. (@RTDSchapiro)

Ken Rudin, host of Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie podcast. (@kenrudin)

Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report. (@amyewalter)

Nancy Cordes, congressional correspondent for CBS News. (@nancycordes)

Matt Kibbe, CEO and president of FreedomWorks. (@mkibbe)

From Tom’s Reading List

Slate: Haunted House — “There may be many reasons Cantor, a seven-term incumbent, lost to David Brat, a professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Worry among Republicans that he was backing some form of immigration reform that would allowsweeping legalization of the undocumented population was the crystalizing issue.”

National Review: Looking Back at the Tea Leaves on Cantor — “Primaries are often criticized for low voter turnout. But they are also expressions of the grassroots sentiments of political parties. The lesson tonight is that establishment candidates ignore their most ardent voters at their peril. As political analyst Stuart Rothenberg put it tonight: ‘The GOP establishment’s problem isn’t with the Tea Party. It’s with Republican voters.'”

Washington Post: GOP strategists try to assess impact of Cantor loss on other primaries — “The results from Virginia emboldened tea party advocates and enthusiasts, who suffered several high-profile defeats in intraparty contests this spring. It also put the establishment on notice that the long-running struggle inside the party will continue beyond this year’s campaigns and into the 2016 elections. But establishment strategists said Cantor’s loss to conservative David Brat may have been the result of particular circumstances that cannot easily be replicated in other races.”

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