Shocking Loss for the U.S. House Majority Leader
political world was stunned Tuesday night when college professor David Brat
toppled U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th Congressional
district. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Brat beat Cantor 55.5
percent to 44.5 percent and by a margin of 7,212 votes.
lost for varying reasons. First, his perceived position of supporting amnesty
as part of the immigration issue proved a lightning rod used against him by
conservative commentators. Second, the majority of his central Virginia
Republican electorate clearly believed he was part of the problem in
Washington. Third, the campaign strategy
of attacking Brat as a liberal clearly backfired and was ill-advised. It is
unlikely that painting someone who hails from the Tea Party as a
"liberal" would carry any credence with a voter who pays attention. Finally, it became apparent that the
Majority Leader had lost touch with the core Republican base that originally
elected him. Still, this is a shocking outcome and the first time in electoral
history that a majority leader was denied re-nomination.
loss caught the entire political world by surprise. Polling, most specifically
the released McLaughlin Associates poll for the Cantor campaign that showed the
Majority Leader ahead 62-28 percent in the closing days, badly missed
predicting the race's outcome.
Democratic nominee is Randolph Macon College professor Jack Trammell. He teaches
at the same school as Brat, which should make for an interesting general
election. The 7th District is heavily Republican so, barring a mistake-laden
campaign, the new GOP nominee begins as the favorite to win the general
Who Will Succeed Cantor (Changing by the minute)
Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has announced his intention to run for Cantor’s
position with the outgoing Leader's backing. Meanwhile, House Conference Chair
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) stated that she will remain in her current
post. The same is true for House Budget Committee chairman and former Vice
Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Texas delegation is deciding who to back from their delegation against
McCarthy; either Rules Committee and former National Republican Congressional
Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) or Financial Services chairman Jeb
Hensarling (R-Texas). Both men hail from Dallas. A leadership candidate
brandishing support from a united Texas delegation would be formidable. Late
last night, unconfirmed but well-placed, sources suggest that Hensarling has
decided not to pursue running.
has vulnerabilities, though he must be viewed as the leading candidate. His
detractors say his job performance as Whip is lacking. While others may concede
such, they counter with the observation that his talents and attributes blend
better with the Majority Leader's position rather than running a Whip team.
Conservative McCarthy opponents say that electing him will signal that the
Conference is continuing to languish in their current lackluster pattern, a
trend that at least central Virginia voters overwhelmingly rejected on Tuesday
in his favor, Rep. McCarthy is a strong fundraiser with the potential to reach
an even higher level. With Cantor on the way out - the Majority Leader was the
House's top fundraiser next to Speaker Boehner - the party has a major void to
fill. An alternative, however, also carries major fundraising ability
especially with Sessions coming from the wealthy North Texas region.
The Race for Whip
McCarthy running for Leader, his Whip post must be vacated. Therefore, a
replacement election for this position will also occur on the 19th. Here, it
appears the leading candidates are Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)
and New Orleans area Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Rumors abound that a deal
might be in the works to put Roskam in the Whip's chair while slotting Scalise
as his Chief Deputy. Others discount such talk suggesting that Scalise, with
his strength among conservatives is actually the man to beat. To
complicate the race, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) announced Thursday
morning he too would enter the Whip’s race.
leadership elections arising in the wake of Cantor’s surprising defeat, but
nonetheless during the middle of campaign season, the Republicans are making a
smart move in allowing only a small time window for the leadership contests. On
the other hand, the fast schedule likely plays to McCarthy’s benefit and could
be the true underlying reason for moving so quickly. It should also be
noted that the election next week is just a warm up to the leadership elections
that Republicans will hold after the election.
Other Primary News
Interstate 95 to northern Virginia, former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer easily captured
the Democratic nomination, which is equal to winning the seat this November.
Twelve-term Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is retiring.
other states, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and appointed Sen. Tim Scott
easily won their Republican nominations. The only two members of the House
delegation to draw primary challenges were Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Jim
Clyburn (D-S.C.); both were easily re-nominated.
Maine, state Sen. Emily Cain easily outdistanced state Senate Majority Leader
Troy Jackson to claim the Democratic nomination in the open 2nd District. For
the Republicans, ex-state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin defeated former two-time
congressional nominee and state Senate President Kevin Raye. Now, Poliquin and
Cain square off in the Democratic district, where she will be favored. Current
Rep. Mike Michaud (D) is running for governor.
For more information, please contact David
Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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