June 10, 2014 By Greg Campbell
Never underestimate the power of the grassroots: that’s the lesson Rep. Eric Cantor has learned. The Associated Press has called the race between Cantor and his Tea Party challenger and the current House Majority Leader- the second most powerful Republican in the House- has lost his primary!
Tea Party challenger David Brat has faced an uphill battle in challenging Cantor, an entrenched establishment Republican who is not only well-connected within the GOP, but serves in the Republican leadership as the House Majority Leader.
At the end of March, Brat, an economics professor, only had $40,000 in funds, according to first quarter FEC filings. Cantor has $2 million.
Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, a reliably-Republican district, has grown tired of the moderate Republican and Brat has played that to his advantage by reminding voters of Cantor’s votes to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown over Obamacare, crucial votes that signal a willingness by the moderate faction within the GOP to cave to Democrats over and over again on important issues.
In a classic “Casey at the Bat” fashion, Cantor and the rest of the GOP leadership have appeared little worried about the Tea Party challenger, even though signs of discontent have been conspicuous. Last month, Cantor lashed out at the crowd after he was booed at a local Republican convention. “Listen, we are about a country of free speech, so decency is also a part of this,” Cantor scolded the crowd. Cantor then tried to chip-away at Brat’s credentials, trying to paint him as an out-of-touch academic elitist. “It is easy to sit in the rarified environs of academia in the ivory towers of a college campus with no accountability and no consequence … when you throw stones at those of us who are working every day to make a difference.”
“This is an earthquake,” said former Minnesota congressman and Cantor-supporter Vin Weber “No one thought he’d lose.”
While this upset might come as a shock to many, it serves as an affirmation of the power of the grassroots. Each election cycle, establishment Republicans try to paint themselves as conservatives and more and more, Americans are questioning the value of choosing “conservative-lite” when they can have a bona fide conservative.