Cantor Sings the TEA Party Blues

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Yesterday, Congressman Eric Cantor and the leadership of the GOP learned a big, and painful, lesson. When creating a monster, be careful what you  wish for.

The lesson came in the form of Cantor’s stunning and unprecedented defeat at the hands of TEA Party challenger Dave Brat. Never before has a sitting majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives been defeated in an election contest. There are certain things that come with the kind of power Cantor has possessed since the GOP took control of the House in 2011. From the ability to funnel federal resources to his district and state to virtually unlimited ability to raise campaign cash. After all, most lobbyists want nothing more than to be a “friend” of the majority leader.

It’s not like Cantor didn’t spend a boatload of money defending his seat against his challenger. Cantor spent more than $5 million on his campaign, to Brat spent less than $300,000. So what happened? How does the second most powerful man in the House of Representatives lose to a primary challenger in a “safe” republican district that he helped draw?

Purity Test

TEA Party 1Eric Cantor has been arguably the strongest ally of the TEA party members of the GOP. He has positioned himself to the right of Speaker John Boehner, pushing the extremist TEA Party agenda that has led to government shutdowns and the overall productivity destroying position of saying no to any sort of cooperation with President Obama in the act of governing. But as part of the House leadership, sometimes Cantor had to act as a leader ans step away from the fringe of his party and vote for compromise.

The Tea Party was initially a manufactured political movement set up to tap into extremist anger ans distrust of government, to bolster the GOP and facilitate taking control of the House from the Democrats in 2010. The problem with sticking a broom handle into a hornets nest is that the sticker is more than likely going to get stung. By occasionally voting to support compromise, Cantor became a target himself, and the child  he helped create, nurture, and support and back home to eat him alive.


Cantor wanted a district that was solidly republican in makeup. and he got the Virginia legislature to gerrymander a district that was more rural and far-right to ensure a safe seat. Unfortunately for Cantor, the grab for security reached too far, and created a district where even he, was not far-right enough.

In the coming weeks, if not days, major jockeying for Cantor’s leadership position will ensue. Speaker Boehner cannot afford to have a lame-duck in the majority leader chair. The big question is will Boehner be able to position  a non-TEA Party radical in line to take over for Cantor. About the only non-TEA Party possibility is Rep. Paul Ryan. I know, it’s odd to think of Ryan as a moderate, but compared to the nut-jobs on the uber-far-right, Ryan could be considered reasonable,

But most unfortunate for the American people however is that no matter who is placed in Cantor’s position, the possibility of compromise on immigration reform, unemployment insurance extension, and a hose of other governing legislative issues, is dead. If anyone didn’t think things were stuck in the mud in the House before Cantors defeat, now even they should understand, progress on anything is stuck in concrete.

  8 comments for “Cantor Sings the TEA Party Blues

  1. Robert Lauten
    June 11, 2014 at 10:05 am

    The OC Register isn’t “Conservative –Libertarian” leaning.
    The OC Register considers Cantor’s defeat, 55% to 45% a minor news item, one column wide, 3.5 inches deep, and most importantly Below The Fold.

    On the other hand, the left hand, the Register features a OC resident that is in charge of organizing for Obama’s commencement visit for this Saturday, 4 columns wide, 11 inches deep and Above The Fold. This story could have run tomorrow, Thursday.
    The Cantor defeat story could have been Above The Fold and above the “Unions To Appeal Tenure Ruling”; both would have been Above The Fold.

  2. Sherree
    June 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Cantor’s defeat reinforces the need for the Dems to hang on to the Senate or risk Washington gridlock that makes last year’s government shutdown look like a walk in the daisy field. The cataclysmic and long-lasting potential of a Senate loss can’t be overstated: A SCOTUS with eight justices; major agency vacancies unfilled and hard right legislation that that, after awhile, even the president can’t veto. If Republicans hold the House and gain the Senate, they will destroy the president’s legacy and the country with it.

  3. junior
    June 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    This is a great really good thing!

  4. Robert Lauten
    June 11, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    From Dave Bart’s “Issues” page
    “Candidate Comparisons” (bottom of page)

    Crony Capitalism:
    Eric added an amendment to the bipartisan STOCK Act which allows family members to continue to inside trade (S. 2038, 2/9/12). Eric voted to bail out the big Wall Street banks in 2008 (H.R. 1424, 10/3/08). It is no coincidence that the same banks that received TARP bailout funds are also some of Cantor’s largest donors.

    Government Surveillance / Personal Freedoms
    Eric Cantor voted for the National Defense and Authorization Act (H.R. 1960, 6/14/13) which authorizes the unconstitutional bulk data collection by the government under the PRISM program. Congressman Cantor voted against an amendment offered by Justin Amash that would have prevented the NSA from collecting phone records of individuals unless suspected of terrorism (H.R. 2397 Amendment 70).

    Eric Cantor the Neo-Con was defeated. Thank Heavens.

  5. Sherree
    June 11, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    My email to OC Register publishers, News Editor Rob Curley:

    Former house majority leader Eric Cantor had more chance of dying in office then losing his primary in a district he drew. The “Orange County Register,” in its infinite wisdom, saw fit to make this rare and seismic event a tiny teaser on the bottom fold of the front page. Stop pandering to your readers with packaged soft-sell stories and start covering the news or I will suspend my daily subscription to your paper!

  6. Robert Lauten
    June 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Dear Editor,
    With your unlimited supply of paper and ink please help your readers understand why, after 28 years, are the enforcement measures promised in Reagan’s 1986 Amnesty, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, or IRCA, are yet to be realized. (“Tea Party Locals Feel Re-Energized” ‘House majority leader’s fall in Virginia buoys group’s members’ 6/12/2014 News 4)

    In 1982 Senator Grassley told his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee:
    “I have come to the conclusion through the course of attending many hearings on this issue, that increased border and interior enforcement along with employer sanctions and a secure worker eligibility identity system is necessary to regain control of our borders.”

    So why are these security measures, after 28 years, yet to be realized?

    The Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy that was created in 1978 under President Carter.
    “The commission knew then – as I did and as I know now (Feb. 2013) – that “without more effective enforcement, legalization could serve as a stimulus to further illegal entry.” Those are the words of the Commission. You see, I didn’t think permanent residency should be granted until we had a worker eligibility system. I offered an amendment on that point in 1982, but it failed.”

    There were numerous Senators at the time that stated their support for enforcement measures. So why did Senator Grassley’s ‘worker eligibility’ amendment fail to pass?
    With your unlimited supply of paper and ink please help your readers understand.

  7. RHackett
    June 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Cantor learned the meaning of the line JFK quoted in his inaugural address.

    “….that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.”

  8. Cynthia mae Curran
    June 15, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Well, OC Tea Party usually states things are better in Texas granted housing is cheaper but how is interesting stats. The County Travis where Austin is has a food insecurity of 18 percent and kids around 25.5 while OC is about 12.2 and 21.2 in 2012. Housing sucks in Orange County and they are poverty issues but things might not be as bad as left or right says. In fact the right interesting enough since they are very pro-Texas puts the county down more than the left these days.

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