The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Virginia Shocker: Cantor Canned

Posted on | June 10, 2014 | 101 Comments

by Smitty


Virginia is for lovers of elections and political gymnastics. Since its 2009 inception, the Tea Party had run an insurgency to force conventions for state-wide elections, which resulted in (what I thought) was a dynamite slate for last November’s elections: Cuccinelli/Jackson/Obenshain. Alas, the GOP elite didn’t seem to care much about this off-year contest, as Her Majesty’s favorite, Greasy Terry, schmoozed in to take the governor’s mansion.

Of course, the first thing T-Mac wanted was some fat Medicaid cash to cement the bluing of the state. Virginia law precludes governors running for re-election. That’s a feature, though: all the “federal” dollars (how, exactly, they differ from traditional frogskins exceeds this blog’s knowledge) wouldn’t be running out until McAuliffe was artfully exiting.

The GOP still controls the Virginia House, though, and has been fighting a delaying action to preclude the fiscal calamity of expanding the Medicaaid rolls without, you know, the economic foundation to pay for it when the day of reckoning arrives. Raaaaacist arithmetic, and all.

Recently, the GOP regained control of the Virginia Senate through means that are greasy enough to make Terry McAuliffe take notice. The sudden, convenient resignation of a Democrat Virginia State Senator could derail the Medicaid expansion and force McAuliffe to deal with a record in office that isn’t an Obama-esque fiscal disaster.

Within that context comes the news that the U.S. House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, got whacked.

A solid, double-digit delivery for Brat. But what’s it all about? Politico reports:

Cantor is the second House incumbent to lose this primary season — Texas GOP incumbent Ralph Hall was defeated by a tea-party backed challenger at the end of May.

There were warning signs that kept piling up. In April, Brat supporters vastly outnumbered Cantor allies at local GOP meetings. Then in May, tea party fueled activists knocked off Cantor’s choice for local GOP chair in Cantor’s home base of Henrico County. But Cantor’s aides consistently brushed off the challenge, telling reporters and fellow GOP aides that the contest didn’t merit the media coverage it was getting

Brat severely trailed in fundraising, pulling in $200,000 this cycle compared to Cantor’s $2 million.

The AP gets to the heart of it:

Much of the campaign centered on immigration, where critics on both sides of the debate have recently taken aim at Cantor. Brat has accused him of being a top cheerleader for “amnesty” for immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally. Cantor has responded forcefully by boasting in mailers of blocking Senate plans “to give illegal aliens amnesty.”

And so the toppling of Cantor will lead to a gut check for the GOP: go all “scorched earth” and run amnesty through despite the base, or deal with the reality that those spiffy Progressive ideas have all the appeal of a dirty diaper outside the Beltway.

It would be great to say I’m confident that the latter will occur. The GOP will recognize the need for reform. The GOP will at least borrow some fortitude and ignore the Graham/McCain/Boehner Axis of Deadwood.

I don’t think that’s how this works. The Tea Party has to root out incumbents one at a time. The resources just don’t exist to start an entirely new party, much less blow away all the incumbent deadwood at once.

This will be a slow and steady effort. Congratulations to Brat, and a toast to avoiding becoming that which he despises.

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