Eric Cantor loses to Tea Party-backed upstart in Va.: Reading the tea leaves

Eric Cantor loses to Tea Party-backed upstart in Va.: Reading the tea leaves

Eric Cantor, (R Virginia) has lost his primary to the Tea Party challenger, Dave Brat. Cantor stands right behind the Speaker of the House in terms of political clout and that is what has undone him. It’s the Greek Tragedy writ large: In your strength we will find the source of your weakness. Cantor tried desperately to maintain credibility with both mainstream and conservative Republicans. He ended up satisfying neither by trying to be both. He succumbed to Potomac Fever and the intoxication of power.

Granted, Tea Party folks have had, at best, mixed results, in part due to the inexperience of committed private citizens attempting to crack a political system that favors incumbents. There is abundant head scratching going on in the halls of Congress and down at the RNC. Dave Brat should not have won; Dave Brat should have had no shot. Dave who?

Virginia, I’m proud to say, has often led the nation throughout its history. Virginia has delivered a set of messages that occur at a variety of levels. Don’t go Washington, don’t be intoxicated by power at the expense of the people you represent. Don’t engage in a breathless pursuit of immigration amnesty. Don’t make bad economic deals. Don’t abrogate the power of the Congress, don’t cave to the President. Don’t fight the Select Committee on Benghazi. Don’t allow politics to overwhelm the moral center. Don’t fall victim to doing the politically correct thing at the expense of doing the right thing. Cantor knew the politics on the Hill as well as anyone. He forgot, however, why he was sent to Washington in the first place. Welcome to American term limits.

The numbers will, in the final analysis, show that Cantor did not only fail in conservative-leaning precincts but in precincts where he demonstrated a strong showing in the past: moderate precincts.

Brat took advantage of every “free” media opportunity available to him, talk radio being a central part of that strategy. Eric Cantor spent money! Dave Brat won by eleven points! No one wins by eleven points.

One would hope that the Republican consultant class might actually absorb the messages here. The electorate is rejecting small points of progress on the fringes. Even where the Tea Party candidate has lost, each has left a mark. These candidates have convinced an increasing numbers of voters that Barack Obama has to be stopped or stifled. In greater Richmond, they don’t think Cantor did that. Bold colors, clarity, and creating the perception that you will walk the talk has led to a victory by a rookie outsider who toppled one of the ten most powerful individuals in Washington.

God bless America!

D.E. Landreaux

D.E. Landreaux

D.E. Landreaux began writing political commentary to realize an irresistable urge to have a voice in the political process beyond the voting booth. He also blogs at


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