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Referendum on GOP leadership: Cantor loses primary for Congressional seat

TEA party supported challenger Dave Brat unseats Cantor in GOP Primary in Virginia CD 7
TEA party supported challenger Dave Brat unseats Cantor in GOP Primary in Virginia CD 7
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his seat in Congress tonight to an almost unknown TEA party backed challenger named Dave Brat. The New York Times is reporting tonight that Brat has 55.5 percent to Cantor's 44.5 percent with 100 percent reporting. ABC News published the Associated Press story that called the race for the Virginia 7th district primary race between Cantor and Brat. He will face Democrat Jack Trammell for the seat in November.

The New York Times reported, “With just over $200,000, David Brat — a professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. — toppled Mr. Cantor, repeatedly criticizing him for being soft on immigration and contending that he supported what critics call amnesty for immigrants in the country illegally. The Associated Press declared Mr. Brat the winner.”

The push for immigration reform in the House was a major issue in the race, as Brat campaigned in favor of tougher immigration laws and securing the border, while criticizing Cantoer and the House GOP leadership for pushing for “amnesty.”

Immigration was clearly a major issue in the race, as the AP story published by ABC News reported, “In an upset for the ages, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-most powerful man in the House, was dethroned Tuesday by a little-known, tea party-backed Republican primary challenger carried to victory on a wave of public anger over calls for looser immigration laws.”

Cantor fought back but it did not save his seat in Congress as Republican primary voters in the district saw this as a chance to regiser their opposition to the push for immigration reform being pushed in Congress. “Mr. Cantor, who is in his seventh term, had sought to rebut Mr. Brat’s charges on immigration, using some of his $5.4 million to send fliers and air television ads in which he claimed to oppose an “amnesty” policy. But with significant help from conservative talk radio figures such as Laura Ingraham, Mr. Brat was able to galvanize opposition to Mr. Cantor in one of Virginia’s most conservative congressional districts,” the New York Times reported.

The defeat will also set up a major battle among Republicans in the House to fill Cantor's leadership position for the next season of Congress, as well as races to fill any leadershp spots vacated by those who are promoted. This will definitely change the face of GOP leadership in the House, and it may give more conservative members of the Republican caucus an opportunity to move up in party leadership in the House. Brat , and his Democrat opponent Trammell, are both professors at Randolph-Macon College.