Depending on where you read, this has either never happened before or perhaps only occured once. The sitting House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, has lost his Republican primary to Dave Brat, an economics professor, in Virginia’s Seventh District.
55.55% – Dave Brat (36,110 votes)
44.45% – Eric Cantor (28,898 votes)
Report from the Associated Press:
In an upset for the ages, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-most powerful man in the House, was dethroned Tuesday by a little-known, tea party-backed Republican primary challenger carried to victory on a wave of public anger over calls for looser immigration laws.
“This is a miracle from God that just happened,” exulted David Brat, an economics professor, as his victory became clear in the congressional district around Virginia’s capital city.
Speaking to downcast supporters, Cantor conceded, “Obviously we came up short” in a bid for renomination to an eighth term.
The victory was by far the biggest of the 2014 campaign season for tea party forces, although last week they forced veteran Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran into a June 24 runoff, and hope state Sen. Chris McDaniel can prevail then.
Cantor’s defeat was the first primary setback for a senior leader in Congress in recent years. Former House Speaker Thomas Foley of Washington and Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota both lost their seats at the polls in the past two decades, but they fell to Republicans, not to challengers from within their own parties.
Polls prior to Election Day had Cantor with a 30 point lead and there was not a single outlet which noted any chance of a loss to Dave Brat. This one was truly out of left field for most folks except voters in the Seventh District of Virginia.
Cantor was a big supporter of immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship. This may either mean that issue is dead for now or they will take this opportunity to push harder since he’s got nothing to lose anyway.
The narrative that the “Tea Party is dead” just took a blow last night as the sitting majority leader was ousted in a historical 12 point loss. Brat wasn’t even necessarily endorsed or supported by any Tea Party groups simply because it was perceived that he had no chance of winning.
Under Virginia law, Cantor’s name cannot appear on the ballot in November which avoids the possibility of an independent run.