Political Earthquake as David Brat Handily Defeats Eric Cantor in Primary
Reports of the Tea Party’s death have been highly exaggerated. The Republican Establishment and (the United States Chamber of Commerce) suffered a humiliating defeat in Virginia 7th Congressional District, as Eric Cantor lost his primary race to David Brat, in a race that was not even close, with over 55.6 percent of the vote to Cantor’s 44.4, according to preliminary results at this time of writing.
Brat was a Tea Party challenger who has defied the establishment and media cant that holds that the Tea Party is on the way out. An intelligent, articulate, and principled conservative, Brat has an excellent chance of winning the general election in a Republican-leaning district. Should the Establishment goad Cantor into a write-in campaign, that could conceivably hand the seat to the Democrats. But so far Cantor has not given any indication of such a move being in prospect.
This was a race in which conservative media, talk radio and the internet, played a large role. Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham gave powerful support to Brat, while blogger Mickey Kaus was relentless in his coverage of Cantor's flaws.
Without question, immigration was the key issue, with Cantor undone by his support for some form of amnesty or legalization. Having toured with Rep. Luis Guttierez, perhaps the most prominent open borders advocate in the Democratic Party, in support of immigration reform, Cantor attempted some last minute fakery to pose as a strong anti-amnesty crusader, distributing the campaign flyer below.
Mickey Kaus of the Daily Caller has been calling out Cantor on his deceptions, and wrote about this flyer:
There’s nothing subtle about what’s going on here. Cantor clearly favors some form of immigration amnesty–maybe not the Senate’s massive bill, which even amnesty advocates concede is dead, but a sweeping legalization of the undocumented population. He has said he’s “committed” to immigration reform and he’s one of the few Republicans who endorsed John Boehner’s so-called immigration “principles,” the last of which is legalization (“these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S.”). He’s been writing his own version of the DREAM Act, legitimizing young undocumented immigrants–as recently as last week he said that bill was “still under discussion.” He supports Rep. Denham’s so-called ENLIST Act--a limited measure significant mainly because it would act as a Trojan Horse giving Reid’s Senate a chance to insert a much larger amnesty in “conference” with the House. Cantor was the behind-the-scenes driver of the attempt to attach ENLIST to a must-pass defense authorization bill.
Cantor also pretended to attack President Obama on immigration in a a press release that was mentioned in his flyer. And in an amazing coincidence, his friend Rep. Guttierez started attacking him as an opponent of immigration reform as Cantor’s race tightened.
If anything, these moves angered the GOP base, and cemented Cantor’s reputation as a slick operator more interested in the power politics of DC than in his district’s concerns.
Brat, an economics professor at Randolph Macon College, has emphasized the effects of massive illegal immigration on wages, driving down the returns to the less skilled segment of the workforce by increasing the supply of low skilled labor. This is an issue with considerable power beyond the Seventh District of Virginia, and it also addresses the Democrats’ attempt to use income inequality as their own issue. He also attacked centralization of power in Washington, DC, including Common Core.
Turnout was low, with a rainy day depressing normally low primary turnout. But the enthusiasm and commitment of Brat’s supporters, who had been canvassing for him extensively, in the absence of any real financial support, was decisive. Fred Bauer reports in National Review:
[Cantor] spent around $1 million dollars between April 1 and May 21, and, according to the latest FEC records, he had about $1.5 million on hand. By last Saturday, the Brat campaign said that it had raised nearly $300,000. To put that in perspective: the American Chemistry Council, one of Cantor’s major backers, alone spent over $300,000 on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The timing of the flood of children across the border, creating severe overload for care facilities and threatening the spread of epidemics, no doubt also hurt Cantor and spurred the Brat turnout. All the talk of legalization and the Dream Act undoubtedly has spurred this flood, and Cantor is at least indirectly implicated in encouraging this.
None of the polling conducted before the election predicted anything close to the result. The Huffpo noted:
Last week, a poll commissioned by The Daily Caller had Cantor's lead slipping, but he was still beating Brat by 13 points.
Cantor's campaign dismissed that poll's lead as ridiculously low, saying the congressman would "win by a much stronger margin." Internal polling showed Cantor up 34 points.
The polls failed to comprehend the importance of enthusiasm and commitment, and the fading attraction of the electorate to the GOP Establishment and its minions.
The GOP base largely understands that uncontrolled borders are changing America forever, importing a large unskilled and poorly-educated population that is unlikely to assimilate, given the proximity to Mexico and Central America, the spread of Spanish media, and the growth of enclaves where English is of limited utility.
As John Bennett has ably pointed out, the new electorate being engineered is deeply inclined toward a high tax (for upper income earners)/high government service polity:
The Pew Research Center recently explored Hispanic views about the role of government. Seventy-five percent of Hispanics want “a bigger government providing more services,” while only 19% prefer “a smaller government providing fewer services.”
The GOP Establishment has been clinging steadfastly to the notion that only by embracing the continued flood of illegal immigrants and legalizing their violation of our border can the party survive. The Chamber of Comerce, which wants to see wages as low as possible, is supplying millions of dollars to back this view. The base, which lives with the consequences of these policies, knows better.
And now they have taught the Establishment and Eric Cantor a lesson. They may be slow learners, but at least we have their attention. Brat offers a fresh face and policies that can appeal across party lines, uniting blue collar workers and many blacks in opposition to the wage-depressing effects of uncontrolled immigration. The public at large is sick of politics as usual. Many on the left are congratulating themselves on their good fortune in having the GOP fall into the hands of "the extremists." I remember when the Democrats had the same reaction to the nomination of Ronald Reagan in 1980.