Republican Rep. Eric Cantor. Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Rep. Eric Cantor was defeated Tuesday in the Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District by Dave Brat in an upset. The House majority leader, who’d been expected to take over as speaker after John Boehner retired, lost “by huge margins in rural parts of the district” allowing Brat, “a relatively unknown economics professor,” to comfortably win the primary.
Though Cantor may still run as a write-in candidate, the primary results are expected to send “shockwaves” through the Republican Party.
The clash between mainstream Republican leaders in Washington and more conservative Tea Party rivals has dominated US politics in recent years, leading to the government shutdown last year.
The decision by Boehner and Cantor to ultimately face down their Tea Party wing over its shutdown demands was thought to have taken the momentum out of the upstart movement and a number of mainstream Senate incumbents had recently seen off primary challenges from the right.
In Tuesday’s primary election in South Carolina, for example, Senator Lindsey Graham comfortably beat six separate Tea Party challengers and avoided a run-off election by gaining more than 50% of the vote.
Cantor, who was already seen as among the more conservative members of the House leadership, had been widely expected to win his primary comfortably. He heavily outspent his opponent with a relatively negative campaign pointing out Brat’s lack of experience.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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