A political bombshell hit Virginia last night … as U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his re-election bid to a political newcomer, Randolph-Macon Economics Professor David Brat. Despite his huge campaign cash advantage, Cantor lost his 7th Congressional district Republican primary by a margin of 45% to 55% of the vote.
Brat was backed by grassroots Tea Party activists, who were frustrated by what they called “establishment politics as usual” in Washington. Cantor was also hit hard by both the Right and the Left on immigration reform during the campaign … and Brat pummeled him on the issue of amnesty in the closing weeks of the campaign. In his post-election speech, Cantor urged his supporters to continue advancing their principles:
Cantor was elected to the U.S. House in 2000 and became Majority Leader in 2011. He is the first U.S. House Majority Leader ever to lose a primary. Brat will now face off against a newly minted Democratic opponent, Jack Trammel. Trammel is a fellow professor at Randolph-Macon College who was nominated by Democrats on Saturday.
In his post-primary speech to supporters, Brat called his election a “miracle.” Brat said he did NOT run against Cantor—whom he called a good man—but instead, to return conservative principles to Washington. They include a commitment to free markets, equal treatment under the law for all people, and a strong national defense:
Although Cantor can serve for the duration of the year, the loss could well prompt a shake-up in the U.S. House leadership in the near future.
Meanwhile, in the 1st Congressional district primary, incumbent Republican Congressman Rob Wittman easily trounced his challenger, Anthony Riedel, by a vote of 76% to 23%. Wittman was first elected to Congress in 2007 and serves on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources Committees. Wittman’s Democratic opponent in the general election will be Norm Mosher.