Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, lost his Virginia district’s Republican primary. He was defeated by David Brat, a conservative college professor with hardly any money, who was supported by Tea Party activists. For other national primary results, go here.
In a stunning upset propelled by tea party activists, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was defeated in Tuesday’s congressional primary, with insurgent David Brat delivering an unpredicted and devastating loss to the second most powerful Republican in the House who has widely been touted as a future speaker.
The race called shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern by the Associated Press, and Cantor conceded a short time later.
“I know there’s a lot of long faces here tonight,” he said to a stunned crowd of supporters in a Richmond hotel ballroom. “It’s disappointing, sure. But I believe in this country. I believe there’s opportunity around the next corner for all of us.”
Brat’s victory gives the GOP a volatile outlook for the rest of the campaign season, with the party establishment struggling late Tuesday to grapple with the news and some conservatives relishing a surprising win.
“This is an earthquake,” said former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber, a friend of Cantor’s. “No one thought he’d lose.” But Brat, tapping into conservative anger over Cantor’s role in supporting efforts to reform federal immigration laws, found a way to combat Cantor’s significant financial edge.
“Eric Cantor’s loss tonight is an apocalyptic moment for the GOP establishment,” said L. Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica, a conservative group that targeted Cantor throughout the primary. “The grassroots is in revolt and marching.” . . .
Brat, an economics professor, was not considered a major threat until Tuesday night, simply failing to show up to D.C. meetings with powerful conservative agitators last month, citing upcoming finals. He only had $40,000 in the bank at the end of March, according to first quarter filings. Cantor had $2 million.
But there were early signs of trouble. Brat exposed discontent with Cantor in the solidly Republican, suburban Richmond 7th Congressional District by attacking the lawmaker on his votes to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, as well as his support for some immigration reforms. At a May meeting of Republican activists in the district, Cantor was booed, and an ally he campaigned for was ousted as the local party chairman in favor of a tea party favorite.
Now Brat will face the Democratic nominee, Jack Trammell, who is another professor. In fact, the two are colleagues at the same liberal arts school, Randolph-Macon College!