Congressman Eric Cantor resigned his role as Majority Leader for the US House of Representatives after losing his seat in the Republican primary last Tuesday.
Unbelievably, residents of Virginia’s 7th district think the lame duck Congressman’s views are too liberal, especially concerning those on immigration reform.
Raving with the Tea Party
On immigration reform, Cantor, one of the leading Republicans known for actively opposing any White House supported legislation, believes children who enter the country with their parents ought to be granted citizenship so long as they serve in the military or receive a college degree.
Cantor’s loss comes at the hands of college economics professor David Brat, whose campaign was supported by the Tea Party. For many in the GOP this could be cause for alarm; before Cantor’s upset it appeared to many the Tea Party were losing their grasp over the Republican centre. If this could spark a resurgence, it could derail any potential bipartisan efforts due to the Tea Party’s belief Democrats are the enemy.
Many congressional Republicans are facing re-election in November, with the added worry over their employability in the Capitol. The Tea Party has already seen the downfall of many incumbent Democrats and Republicans since the 2010 midterms, which has helped label this Congress as the least productive in US history.
The trouble isn’t simply a Republican anomaly, however. Democrats will unlikely come out of this smiling. With an already divisive agenda, with immigration reform one key element of their platform, any across-the-aisle cooperation is likely to become non-existent in future sittings.
However, outside of Congress and Washington, the result is being seen differently. Although many will disagree with the conservative views he’ll bring to sessions, one cannot help but realize the massive win this is for millions of Americans.
Just another hare and tortoise race
On the outset it appears to be a classic tale of the Tortoise and the Hare. Yet in this version the hare didn’t run full speed ahead. Instead he was under the impression he would start the race at the finish line.
The darling of Wall Street funding, Eric Cantor raised more than $5million and ran an effortless campaign for his district (as in the “effort” was “less”). Often considered as a potential successor for Speaker of the House, Cantor maintained the support of hundreds of political action committees representing numerous special interests as well as major corporations from a wide variety of economic sectors: telecommunications, energy, airlines, food, and manufacturing.
On top of this, Cantor had a staff of more than 23 paid individuals and a plethora of consulting firms offering assistance where possible.
Comparatively, Professor Brat had $200,000 at his deposal, and a staff comprised of only two paid employees. His campaign manager was a 23 year old recent college graduate. What really made Brat stand out is his eagerness to talk to the people’s issues, something many political incumbents have failed to comprehend, preferring to wine and dine financial backers from large corporations.
When money became worthless
By addressing topics his constituents believe in, and offering voters a chance to have their opinions heard by a candidate, Brat demonstrated money does not always pick the winner.
Instead of relying on a large war chest, Brat focused on the power of a grassroots-styled campaign, getting the attention of real people and communities, all the while remaining a non-entity in national media. Or even Washington media.
Local conservative talk radio pounded Cantor for his immigration views, which many in the district had significant issues with.
“Every newscast was talking about [Cantor’s] support for immigration,” said Scottie Nell Hughes of the Tea Party News Network. “Dollars can’t buy an advertisement like that!”
Cantor’s defeat is raising concerns for the future of Republican, and even Democratic, campaigns. Cantor, one of the House’s biggest fundraisers, took his efforts nationwide to shore up capital for GOP candidates. And while his future as a Super Pac fundraiser seems both certain and successful, many in Congress are wondering whether they will suffer the same fate.
By ignoring the significant underdog, by not listening to constituents, representatives of both parties are putting themselves in a risky position. A position that seems to benefit voters tired of career politicians.