Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Eric Cantor lost! The tea party is not dead. Is Lamar Alexander vulnerable after all?

Wow! I didn't see it coming. The tea party favored candidates were losing to more establishment Republicans in primaries everywhere. Mitch McConnell won handily in Kentucky beating Matt Bevin by 25 points. In Georgia, tea party favored candidate Karen Handel did not make it into the run-off. In Oregon, Monica Wehby took 51 percent of the vote to defeat tea party favored candidate Rep. Jason Conger. In Idaho, GOP Rep. Mike Simpson easily defeated primary challenger Bryan Smith who was backed by The Club for Growth and other tea party PAC's. In Mississippi, Thad Cochran was barely beat by tea party favorite State Senator Chris McDaniel but the two will face a rematch in  a June 24 run off. In most races the establishment won.

Then last night, in Virginia U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost to tea party challenger Dave Brat. Cantor did not barely lose, he lost substantially 44 to 56% of the vote,  and he had outspend his challenger considerably. This race was not even on the radar of races to watch. This was a stunning upset.  Pundits are saying the thing that beat him was his position on immigration reform and the news in recent days of the thousands of illegal immigrant children flowing across the southern border.

What does this mean for other tea party candidates like Joe Carr who is challenging Lamar Alexander? Cantor is hardly a liberal. He gets an "A" from the American Tax Payers Union, a respectable 80 from American's for Prosperity; a 61% from Heritage Action which is kind of low, but he gets an American Conservative rating of 95%.  That is hardly a liberal voting record. Heritage Action gives Lamar a 46, American's for Prosperity gives him a 69, and American Conservative Union a 68. By most measures, Lamar Alexander is less conservative than Eric Cantor.

We have a means to compare Eric Cantor to Lamar Alexander but we have no means to compare the challenger of each. Maybe Cantor's challenger, Dave Brat, was a sensible and accomplished and capable tea party candidate, instead of a nutty fringe and incompetent candidate like Joe Carr. I have always thought Alexander could be venerable if challenged by someone like Ron Ramsey or Senator Mark Green. I don't know the quality of the challenger to Cantor, but I know Joe Carr is not a quality candidate. In any event, the Carr campaign must be feeling energized this morning and the Alexander camp must be concerned that perhaps victory is not assured after all.

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  1. Rod, as much as I'd like to disagree with you and tell you that Cantor is the sign of a coming tsunami I think you're right in your essay. I'm still hopeful that McDaniel will beat Cochran and hope others will go to the Senate Conservatives Fund website and support him. I understand that Cantor's district is strongly Republican and probably therefore very conservative (hence Cantior's election there to begin with) which helped out Brat. That dynamic isn't there in states like KY (though I don't know much about their politics; they did elect Rand Paul, after all) or in TN which doesn't seem to elect sterling conservatives to state-wide office. I completely agree with you about Carr. I hope that Alexander is worried but Carr just isn't U.S. Senate material. Not sure he's TN General Assembly material either, frankly. Personally, I still wish that Ben Cunningham would consider running against Alexander. I'll probably write Ben's name in.

  2. Rod, Don't accept the national media's spin on Brat's victory over Cantor. The reasons were a lot more local than people realize.

  3. The Ten GOP is not conservative with the fools it always nominates.Corker,Alexander,Haslem are not conservative..

  4. The above rino is exactly what is wrong with the GOP nationally......You run Democrat-lite candidates and expect people to get excited and run to the polls.