What could be more exciting for movement conservatives than the amazing and surprise landslide victory news tonight that incumbent establishment GOP Congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been defeated for renomination by a coalition-conservative, Professor David Brat, in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
With polls closed some 90 minutes ago, our sources report 86.83 percent of the votes have been counted and show 55.77 for conservative challenger David Brat, and 44.23 for incumbent Congressman Eric Cantor. The 10% victory margin appears an insurmountable lead for incumbent Cantor to overcome as well as a totally unexpected, surprise, landslide victory against the establishment Republican.
Some of my conservative friends had originally been uncertain about challenger David Brat. As a Tea Party supported candidate, was he really a candidate supported by Libertarians within the Tea Party, and perhaps hostile to those who had broader conservative issue interests?
Advice offered by columnist and author Ann Coulter was helpful to dispel any doubts about conservative David Brat, the surprise winner of this primary. Coulter suggested that to find out whether someone deserved the support of coalition minded conservatives, simply ask them about the amnesty issue.
Those who are only interested in “cut the budget” issues might be preferable to an establishment Republicans but best of all would be a candidate who appeals to all three legs of the old Reagan campaigning and governing coalition – defense, economics and traditional issues conservatives. Many libertarians and most libertarian leaders support open borders and favor amnesty. Ann Coulter expressed the view that this one issue could be used to help coalition minded conservatives decide who to support in primary elections.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s efforts to promote amnesty have been detailed repeatedly in the pages of REDSTATE, the largest website-news source for movement conservatives. His victorious challenger in today’s GOP primary called him out on this issue, settling the question of whether he was able to appeal to all segments of that winning Reagan coalition. He did. He won.
What makes this victory all the more shocking is that earlier this primary election day there were reports of a 59% t 38% lead for House GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor. And, Cantor was using that massive fundraising advantage to flood his district with advertising promoting his supposed conservative credentials. This provoked Eric Erickson at one point to write in REDSTATE that it appeared Cantor wanted to be considered for a leadership position at one of the anti-amnesty groups, so strong and pointed were his suddenly anti-amnesty advertising and commercials.
One of my associates has written in the past that what irritates him the most about the more moderate (or less conservative) incumbent Republican officeholders isn’t that they vote more liberal than he would like, but that they repeatedly lie to us about it. They claim to be ready to vote more conservative, and then go to Washington and vote with the liberals on key issues. Then they run for reelection claiming a conservative voting record. My friend (Jon) is more irritated about being lied to than about those GOP officeholders who don’t vote as conservative as he’d like.
Eric Cantor surely must be the “poster child” for this idea that you can get away with a more liberal voting record as long as you have lots of money to campaign for reelection as a conservative.
Except now Eric Cantor, with today’s stunning defeat, becomes the poster child for the new slogan, Lie and Lose, or vote conservative and win.
Another reason for the major shock and surprise of today’s defeat of Eric Cantor is that earlier reports showed he has a most incredible fundraising advantage over his challenger - $5 million vs $120,000. It is hard to imagine how such a huge disparity can be overcome. Professor and now Congressman elect David Brat did in fact overcome that disadvantage.
One of my sources at the Young Americans for Freedom alumni group who supported David Brat had earlier in the day sent out a concession memo to his friends in the group. Like many others who knew of the 59% to 38% polling advantage for incumbent Eric Cantor and his $5 million to $120,000 fundraising advantage, he didn’t have any expectation that the incumbent could be defeated, although he was undeterred in his public support for the challenger.
The big loser in today’s defeat of the powerful GOP House Majority Leader is not incumbent Eric Cantor. It is the number one House Republican, Speaker John Boehner. The Speaker had a number 2 Majority Leader who many movement conservatives despised. A very good insurance policy to guarantee that no matter how angry conservatives might ever get against him for his well known concessions to the liberals, they could never muster the voters to elect Eric Cantor over him because some conservatives simply would never vote for Cantor to replace Boehner.
For example, 28 Republican House members voted with all of the House Democrats to enact the Obama debt limit increase which then whistled right through the Democrat Senate. As upsetting as it was to see 28 Republican House members defect to join the Democrats, what really outraged conservatives was that their own elected Majority Leader, John Boehner, was one of the defectors. It is one thing to claim you can only get reelected to your House seat by voting as if you were a liberal Democrat on some key issues. But this was the Majority Leader in a safe home district, defecting to join Nancy Pelosi in passing the Obama demanded debt limit increase.
In the past the question was, would conservatives really be better off if they could convince John Boehner's number 2 in the House, Eric Cantor, to challenge him? If Cantor won, would we really be better off?
With Eric Cantor now out, a future Majority Leader challenge to the leadership of John Bohener is now far more of a possibility, especially if Boehner betrays conservatives again on an issue of critical importance to them such as amnesty for illegals.
Moderate Republicans love to lecture conservatives about “reality not fantasy.” They will have no answer that even begins to sound plausible when we ask, after this amazing election victory against such overwhelming odds, who lives in the fantasy world now, and what can’t we conservatives do in the year ahead, now that we have overthrown Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th?