Cantor's Walloping Is a Political Earthquake

Brat upset likely to kill off immigration reform
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2014 4:32 AM CDT
Cantor Walloping Is a Political Earthquake
In this combination of photos, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, and Dave Brat, right, react after the polls close Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Richmond, Va.    (AP Photo)

The House majority leader who used to cozy up to upstart Tea Party candidates has been crushed in his GOP primary by a little-known challenger from the movement, and analysts say America's political landscape is looking very different this morning.

  • "The biggest Congressional upset in modern memory" will have far-reaching consequences, including the death of immigration reform, predicts Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, noting that rival David Brat savaged Cantor for allegedly supporting an amnesty and other Republicans are now extremely unlikely to go out on a limb to support any elements of reform.

  • House legislative activity is also likely to grind to a halt as Republicans become terrified of doing anything that could be used against them in primaries still to come, Cillizza writes—not that there were many "grand legislative plans" anyway.
  • The defeat of the House majority leader isn't just rare, it's completely unprecedented in the history of the office, Alexandra Jaffe at the Hill finds. Since the office was created in 1899, there were 55 successful renomination bids before last night—and until Cantor's loss, House majority leaders were more likely to die than be defeated.
  • With Cantor out, Tim Alberta at the National Journal predicts that Speaker John Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy could be next as conservative House GOPers push "for a wholesale change in leadership." He says that soon after Cantor's defeat, one conservative lawmaker told him, "They haven't been conservative enough. We've told them that for three years. They wouldn't listen."
  • Cantor's defeat is a bad omen for moderates and is "mildly Shakespearian" in light of his early support for Tea Party candidates, write Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer at the New York Times. But they suggest there could be more than policy behind his defeat. A House political analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report says Cantor—the most senior Jewish lawmaker in congressional history—"was culturally out of step with a redrawn district that was more rural, more gun-oriented, and more conservative." Cantor's religion, he says, was "the elephant in the room."
Click for more on the man who handed Cantor his stunning loss. (More Eric Cantor stories.)

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