Cantor, Now Castrato
Yesterday Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House Majority Leader, lost his primary to a Tea Party challenger, David Brat, a university professor. Apparently it's the first time a House Majority leader has ever lost a primary battle.
In one respect, it's been a long time coming. Here's Cantor's vote totals in general elections since he was elected in 2000:
Those are general election totals, not primaries, but you can see the trend downward. The longer he stayed in office, the less popular he became.
What does this primary defeat mean? I can see him losing because he's a douche, but he seems to have lost because he isn't douche-y enough for Republicans in Virginia's 7th congressional district. The media has focused on his mild support for immigration reform as the reason for his downfall. Nate Cohn of the Times isn't quite sure but adds this sad, inevitable thought:
Regardless of the exact reason for Mr. Cantor’s defeat, the news media’s focus on immigration is likely to deter Republicans from supporting comprehensive immigration reform.
And what to make of David Brat? A university professor where? According to the Boston Globe ...
He teaches economics at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Brat, who has a Ph.D. and a Masters of Divinity, teaches mostly introductory economics classes at the college, a small liberal arts school outside of Richmond. ... Brat’s previous research includes a study titled, ‘‘An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.’’ (Brat says he is not a Randian.) He frequently trumpeted the six elements of the ‘‘Republican Creed’’ on the campaign trail, which you can read at his website.
His Republican creed can be found here. I asume he's not a Randian because of the divinity thing.
Here's more reaction via Andrew Sullivan's site.
The bigger question relates to Cantor's falling general election totals. What's going on in Virgina's 7th? (The fightin' 7th!) Were folks voting against Cantor because he was a douche, an insider, or because he was leaning too far right at a time when the 7th was becoming more centrist? We'll see in November. I'd love to be able to post this headline then: “Brat, Spanked.” But that's up to Virginia.