This Tuesday, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor lost his primary in what can only be called a blindsiding upset, unseated by Tea Party candidate and economics professor David Brat. To call the loss shocking is an understatement. The entire political world has been reeling since the race was called, from far right activists declaring the election the dawn of the new Tea Party wave and pundits shaking their heads in disbelief.
The night was even topped off with immigration reform protesters entering Rep. Cantor’s campaign headquarters and staging a protest.
Now that the dust has settled, Rep. Cantor has announced he will step down from leadership in July. That’s a shock as well, but here are some other startling facts to come out of the Cantor primary loss:
1) He was the first sitting House Majority Leader ever to lose a primary. If nothing else, Rep. Cantor will always have a record to look back on. According to Vox, the House Majority Leader position was created in 1899, and in its entire span of existence no leader ever lost his primary. Ever. So, he may not have his seat as of 2015, but at least Cantor will have a place in the history books.
2) He was allegedly 30 points ahead of his opponent. Sure, it was an internal poll, but when you get polling stating that you are up by over 30 points on your challenger, odds are you aren’t going to be putting a ton of effort into your campaigning. That appears to have been part of the problem for Rep. Cantor, who took his reelection for granted due to his massive lead. That should probably be a lesson to every sitting politician.
3) He spent more at steakhouses than his opponent spent on his entire campaign. Brat had $200,000 in his campaign war chest. Rep. Cantor, in comparison, had about $5.4 million. So how unevenly matched were the two campaigns when it came to spending? The proof is in the meat — Rep. Cantor spent nearly $170,000 on steakhouses. Brat, in the same period of time, spent about $123,000 on his entire campaign.
4) He was pegged as “too liberal” for the district. Sure, Rep. Cantor spearheaded conservative policies such as gutting the social safety net, blocking the Affordable Care Act, opposing unemployment expansion and poo poohing equal pay, anti-discrimination laws and violence against women. Still, he supported amnesty for undocumented immigrants to offer some of them a chance to earn citizenship, and that one deviation from the party line was too much for the GOP to accept.
“Liberal” will never be a word one associates with David Brat. An Ayn Rand acolyte, he at one point ran a half a million dollar program to support her ideas on his college campus. He advocates combining Christianity and capitalism into a unified system because otherwise we may see another Hitler. He’s rejected environmental concerns and conservation, saying that the “rich countries solve their problems.” His own campaign manager had to scrub his Facebook page after posting about secession, comparing George Zimmerman’s murder of Trayvon Martin to abortion, and calling for female teachers to be banished from teaching boys at school.
5) There will be no Republicans in Congress who aren‘t Christians. When it comes to the whole “one nation under God” thing, the GOP for one will now all be on the exact same page. Rep. Cantor was the only Jewish Republican in Congress, and now if Brat wins he will be replaced by yet another Christian. “According to data collected by the Pew Forum at the start of the 113th Congress last year, the GOP conference was 69 percent Protestant, 25 percent Catholic, 4 percent Mormon and 1 percent Orthodox Christian,” Washington Post reports. “Cantor (Va.) was the only member of any other faith on the Republican side in either the House or the Senate — out of 278 members. There are no non-religious Republicans in Congress either.”
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