House Majority leader Eric Cantor spent years running around the country meddling in other people’s primaries. He cheerleaded for more spending and more debt, poo-pooed the repeal of ObamaCare, and promoted amnesty for illegal aliens. And to “thank” him for that, his constituents sent him packing this week. For the first time in history, a sitting majority leader lost his bid for renomination.
You would have thought the GOP powers-that-be would have done some Wednesday morning quarterbacking and decided: “Hey. We need to do something different.”
Nope. It appears that the US House GOP caucus is preparing to elevate Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) into the majority leader slot. Erick Erickson over at RedState points out that McCarthy has been an even bigger ideological squish than Cantor. In other words, for conservatives, McCarthy is a step backward from Cantor.
John Davis, Raleigh’s favorite GOP commentator, decided to sound off on the Cantor affair. And he’s as wrong on this Virginia development as he often is on stuff that happens here in North Carolina:
[…] Many conservative Republicans are claiming today that U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, lost his race for reelection because of the influence of the Tea Party or because of the immigration issue. Wrong. Here is why he lost:
- Eric Cantor was not a good Congressman
- Cantor and his staff had the reputation of being arrogant and aloof
- Cantor spent too much time positioning himself to run for House Speaker and not enough time positioning himself back home to run for reelection
- Cantor let his power go to his head; he didn’t think he was vulnerable
- Cantor was so despised by his own voters that a $5.4 million to $207,000 fundraising advantage and a 34-point lead in the polls couldn’t save him
- Cantor lost by 56% to 44% because of hubris; ego run amok
- Cantor lost despite a staff of 23 to his opponent’s 2 staffers because he was dismissive […]
With those bullet points, Davis could very well be describing Renee Ellmers. But she won in May. The difference between the primary in North Carolina’s 2nd and Virginia’s 7th comes down to: (1) the quality of challenger, and (2) the quality of the on-the-ground organization. Frank Roche worked hard in his effort to unseat Ellmers, but he couldn’t overcome all of the bridges he has burned during his time in local politics. Also, there’s no real organized opposition in North Carolina’s 2nd. Contrast that with what’s going on in Virginia’s 7th. In the Tar Heel State, we’ve got a lot of folks who are really fed up with the massive amount of selling out by the Republican establishment. But the establishment stays in power because they’re organized. The grassroots opposition is not (on a large-scale basis).
Here’s another angle on the “bad congressman” theme pushed by Davis. Cantor had been representing that district in the US House since 2000. He had been representing a good chunk of those people in the state legislature since 1992. At some point, he must have been doing SOMETHING right. You can trace Cantor’s drop in popularity from the point he started carrying water for the House leadership on immigration, raising the debt ceiling, and opposing the repeal of ObamaCare.
Davis also makes the same error so many in the establishment make: The Tea Party is not a club or an organization. You don’t pay dues. You don’t register or sign up. The Tea Party is a nickname supplied to people who are mad as hell over being lied to, and abused by, a government that is supposed to be working FOR them.
On top of all that, the establishment has decided to point fingers at Cantor’s constituents and David Brat, the 7th’s new GOP nominee for US House. Some media reports have tied Cantor’s downfall to a supposed rise in anti-Semitism. (Cantor is Jewish.) Again, Cantor had been representing the district since 2000 in Congress, and in the state legislature since 1992.
There was also a hit on Brat and some “Hitler” comments. When you get past the shock headline, you find that Brat wrote an essay in 2011 suggesting that the world’s political and economic climate were ripe for the rise of a new “Hitler.” * Hmmm. The guy mentions Hitler in an article he wrote. Three years later, he defeats a Jewish leader in an election. Conspiracy !!!!* smh.
Brat ran with a pretty good message. You would think the GOP hierarchy would look at that message, see the electoral result, and embrace it. But, no. We’re talking about Hitler and anti-semitism.
And with the effort to elevate McCarthy to the majority leader role being vacated by Cantor, the GOP is simply re-arranging deck chairs on The Titanic. The establishment learned nothing. It’s up to US to hammer the point home again and again until they do.