The Washington Post reports that Rep. Eric Cantor, the US House Majority Leader, has lost the Republican primary for his seat, thus being denied re-election. Cantor, a Virginia Republican, widely presumed to be a future Speaker of the House, fell short to David Brat, a Tea Party backed right-winger. Arguably, Cantor ran to the right of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on many issues, though I had always seen him as more moderate, as I’m sure the Tea Party also thought.
Cantor had supported a limited version of the DREAM Act, and this ended up being an Achilles’ heel of sorts for him. Among other flash points in his primary fight were support for ending the government shutdown, votes to raise the debt ceiling and support for what was left of the Voting Rights Act. While he had stooped low in right-wing campaign tactics in previous weeks, most had not expected Cantor to lose out in tonight’s primary. In fact, the loss came as a devastating surprise for Democrats and Republicans alike. Most Democrats were excited that the renowned arch-conservative would be out of a job, though many of the more pragmatic liberals realize that this spells nothing but trouble, as it virtually guarantees that the Republican leadership will shift to the right.
Fresh off the presses, The Plain Dealer (the paper of Cleveland, close to Boehner’s district) reports that Boehner will not even seek another term as Speaker of the House. With the deck stacked against all that many seat-flips thanks to gerrymandering, it is unlikely that a Democrat such as Nancy Pelosi would ascend to the gavel in 2015. Rather, the GOP Caucus will likely look inward to choose themselves a new leader for the first time in eight years.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) would be the only extant member of Republican leadership, though I seriously doubt that he would be favored by the Tea Party. A couple of names have already been floated as possible successors, including at least one Texan. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) is openly considering a run for the gavel, so reports KERA.
As for Cantor, there is truly no love lost for him from me. He was the sole Jewish Republican in Congress and, as such, I bore a special place of resentment in my heart for him. Prominent public officials who are selfish, greedy and moneygrubbing are terrible in any occurrence, but when one belongs to an ethnic group typically stereotyped by those insults, it is especially disappointing.
That being said, the limited semblance of humanity Cantor gave on important issues such as immigration reform and Voting Rights will be missed. Furthermore, if this is a sign of things to come, the Speaker’s fight in 2015 will surely be an exciting sight to see!