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Anti-Cantor coalition included Tea Partiers, Independents, Democrats

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cantor finally down

Cantor finally down (photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

While the Tea Party has claimed the scalp of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor there are more than a few other people in Virginia’s 7th district who had a hand in his demise and they are celebrating right now. And many Democrats across the country are rejoicing too.

It’s a mistake to believe this is strictly a Tea Party victory, it’s also a victory for the Democratic party and the people of Virginia who, try as they might, had been unable in the past to rid themselves of a seven-term congressman they felt was entrenched and unseatable.

When I read the breaking news moments after Cantor’s defeat I ran to the phone to call my good friend Beq Johnson who lives in Virginia’s 7th district, Cantor’s district. I know a little bit about that district because I pounded the pavement there with Beq in the run up to the 2008 presidential election working for the Obama campaign (I wanted to be in Richmond, the one time capital and heart of the confederacy, when Obama won) and we’ve had many conversations over the years about Cantor’s hold over her district.

I caught Johnson before she’d heard the news, and she let out wild shrieks of joy. She shared with me her precinct had been “packed” with voters for this primary when she showed up at the polls to cast her vote. Johnson explained to me how in Virginia you don’t have to be registered for a party to vote in the party primaries, and everyone was out in full force yesterday. As a registered Independent, she cast her vote for Dave Brat in her state’s Republican primary.

I asked her a few questions about Cantor, to articulate how she felt about him, as one of his constituents. The most interesting part of this exchange comes towards the end. Remember, her district went blue for Obama, she says it’s a changing district. After my discussion with Beq, I’m not so sure the Tea Party could have pulled this victory off all by themselves, without voters like Beq.


What was it about him you didn’t like?

Everything about him, where do I start? That Bush self satisfied smirk, he knew he was their pet. He was being groomed, he got anything he wanted on a silver platter, they called him the Young Guns.

7th district, virginia (photo wiki commons)

7th district, virginia (photo wiki commons)

The district is crazy, totally gerrymandered. They cherry picked voters, givin’ his district to those likely to support him. Have you seen what it looks like? It’s got 2 legs sticking out of it!

It’s his hubris; a self-assuredness that he can’t be unseated. Every day in the mail- every – single- day, for 3 weeks- saying Brat was rubber stamping all Obama was doing [ed note- what USA Today called “far-fetched attacks on Brat“]. I tore it into little pieces and threw it away. Finally, something came from Brat today, first time. He refuted all of it. Between 6:30-6:45 there were a barrage of phone calls, way over a dozen. It’s a sign of how worried they were that there was all this activity.

What’s your bio?

I’m registered Independent, as left as they come, considering the alternative. I do not relate to the Tea Party at all, they’re funded by Koch brothers.

How many people like you who would identify as left or Dems do you think came out to vote in the GOP primary?

I wish I knew, I’m guessing a lot. Cantor has been entrenched since 2001, that’s 13 years, entrenched in my opinion. My precinct 7th district went for Obama- always thought of as Red, but my neighborhood went Blue when the state did. Very small town-ish, young creative professionals. The face of the neighborhood is changing, the state is going that way. I don’t know what to say except I couldn’t believe it when my precinct went Obama.

Do you think it would be a mistake to think that it was just the Tea Party that took him out?

Oh yeah, I don’t think the Tea Party is that strong here, I don’t think they are. I see some of those ‘Don’t tread on me’ license plates around, but ..he was defeated by a combination of  Tea Partiers and people like me. I was getting calls saying “we’ve got to get rid of him”, they started leaving messages. I’d say half and half  “Let’s get rid of Cantor.” Just as many people,  just wanted to get rid of Cantor, he was done in from both directions in my opinion.

…watching MSNBC and Brat is playing the God card. Funny, Brat and the guy he’ll run against, Jack Trammell, both teach at Randolph Macon College up the road in Ashland.

Virginia has a “sore loser” rule and Cantor can’t run as an independent.

Jack Trammell, Sign me up!

Jack Trammel just might have a decent stab at winning Virginia’s 7th district. Either way, it’s a win-win unseating Cantor. A very big fish.

Business Insider Democrats Rejoice After Cantor’s ‘Unfrigginbelievable’ Loss

Their shock hasn’t stopped liberals from rejoicing over the defeat of a man who earned the nickname “Dr. No” for his vigorous opposition to the Democratic agenda in Congress. The official who spoke with Business Insider described Cantor’s loss as being a “rebuke” of the GOP “on every level.”

…”I guarantee every single Republican Senate and gubernatorial candidate that has a primary left – and that’s a lot of them – their consultants and staff are doing emergency conference calls and hyperventilating into paper bags right now,” said the official. The official also said Cantor’s shocking shellacking proved Republican operatives have flawed “strategy” and “tactics.”

“Their pollsters had put out stuff that they were 34 points up,” the official said of Cantor’s campaign. “They’re just so out of tune with what the lay of the land is.”

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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44 Responses

  1. GJB on June 11, 2014, 2:06 pm

    Thanks, Annie, I didn’t know that independents can vote in Virginia primaries, so that certainly puts a different spin on the result than we’ve heard from the mainstream media. My other take on this race: Cantor had the big bucks behind him and Brat had very little to spend. Whether it was the Tea Party, people like Beq, or as is likely, a combination of both, the candidate who spent the most by far was defeated. Kind of gives one hope that maybe it’s just possible, even under this corrupt political system, that another big monied “lobby” can be defeated!

    • on June 11, 2014, 3:16 pm

      i’m very dissappointed that not a word was said about israel. i kept reading and reading this wondering when cantor’s cozy relation with AIPAC and israel would come up. but it never did.
      so whats the point of this. i couldn’t really care less in this instance in the tea people. i thought this site’s main purpose was to call out israel and its deleterious influence in america.

      • annie on June 11, 2014, 4:43 pm

        tth, we (the site) actually had something to say about cantor/israel , you can read it here:

        there was too much to cram it all into one post so we diversified. i don’t think the fact of his religion or his relationship/support with israel was the primary reason why his district voted him out. as opposed to say, possibly pushing to bomb iran or a number of other reasons.

        why cantor bothered a lot of people in this country may not have been why his constituents were sick of him .. being the big shot dc politician. he was too big for his britches.

      • Blownaway on June 12, 2014, 12:53 am

        I dint think Israel had a lot to do with this but for the fact that it made him believe he was invincible as the lobbies man and that contributed to his smugness that was such a turn off. Now if Menendez, Kirk and some of the Florida panderers get voted out…that would be Israel. Amazing how “they ” dominate our politics. All of the Hillary vetting is about is she good for Israel. Not is she good for America. I’ll vote for anyone who says I dint care about Israel, ask me about America

      • bilal a on June 12, 2014, 1:23 am

        Epstein at the WSJ doesn’t like the idea of a Christian Libertarian talking about the threat of Fascism , a new Hitler, and the state’s monopoly on violence. Think Progress says its the loss of the only Jewish GOP rep?? And Politico mourns, as the NR is saddened:

        The dream of a Jewish Republican speaker of the House is no more.

        Read more:

        He’s Jewish. — His Religion Has Caused Difficulties in Congress.

        why are Liberals so tribal?

      • LeaNder on June 12, 2014, 11:53 am

        as the NR is saddened

        Zengerle seems to have picked up the topic from the NYT and only weighs evidence. Apparently, he only finds one GOP colleague who suggested he was too ambitious, driven, pushy. … Apart from one of Phil’s favorite themes: Jewish money. Adelson’s, at least, went to the GOP anyway (only lately?) and would have gone there even without Cantor, it feels.

        I find passage following that passed interesting:

        If Cantor ever experienced similar discomfort, he didn’t let on. Perhaps he was truly oblivious to it, or perhaps to acknowledge it would be too personally (not to mention politically) painful. Indeed, to the extent Cantor ever did view his religion as a liability, it was only with regard to his relationships with Democrats. When I profiled Cantor back in 2011, he was in the midst of another one of his serial reinventions. It was just a few months after the debt-ceiling fight, in which Cantor sabotaged Barack Obama and John Boehner’s attempts to strike a grand bargain, and Cantor was now trying to portray himself as a bipartisan conciliator and someone willing to work with the president. He spent most of his time with me hammering home that message, saying things like, “I’m not this guy with horns and a partisan only.”

        So why not look at it as a sign that politicians that keep shifting their positions in accordance to perceived or studied public mood, may not convince their voters as easily as they did in the past. Maybe they are learning that they are fooled sometimes? Besides could it be that voters of the democrats have a bias suggesting dissembling is much more frequent on the side of the Grand old Party?

        I may be completely wrong of course, but I find much sadness in the article. OK, maybe a suspicion some things could be antisemitic. But yes, what I learned from following links by Phil and Annie, it seems that Canter was a central in the US dept-ceiling crisis. Could it be that people did not like the delays in 2011 very much. Even GOP voters?

  2. lysias on June 11, 2014, 2:14 pm

    I bet Republicans will try to eliminate open primaries now, and try to have only closed primaries in which only members of the party concerned are allowed to vote.

    I too have been very annoyed by Cantor’s smirk.

  3. just on June 11, 2014, 2:42 pm

    Brat is an econ prof. Trammell is a sociology prof.

    I’ll take Trammell and a Democrat, thanks very much! Not even close.

    • lysias on June 12, 2014, 10:08 am

      Brat has not only a Ph.D. in economics, but a master’s degree in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, which is a highly respectable institution (which I happen to know well, as I hired several students from that seminary for part-time jobs while I was working at the Institute for Advanced Study and was a good friend of Prof. Bruce Metzger, who long taught at that school and was one of the leading biblical scholars in the world).

      If Brat really takes seriously practicing orthodox Christianity in his political life (something that is suggested by his criticism of crony capitalism,) that strikes me as a good thing.

  4. gazacalling on June 11, 2014, 3:02 pm

    You guys at MW should stop navel-gazing. There are a *lot* of people who agree with you or could be persuaded to. The base of the Republican party is not the preening, warmongering, crony capitalists of the Bushes and Cantors of the world.

    If you stopped being so left-wing ideological, if you really put justice for the Palestinians first, above your own progressive self-image, if you were really willing to drop your preconceptions, think objectively and strategically about who your allies could be, you’d realize that the Republican base is ripe for an appeal.

    The potential is there. Drop the liberal agenda, the promotion of the sexual “liberation” road to nowhere, the knee-jerk support of Obama even when he bombs Libya, the self-congratulations for events like this which have nothing to do with you. It makes you feel good but it turns people off.

    Liberals and conservatives need each other. They complement each other’s strengths and counterbalance their weaknesses.

    Israel/Palestine is such a cut-and-dried issue: anyone who just sees the evidence agrees. Drop the ideology that is there only to boost your own self-esteem! Reach out to conservatives! The base of the party isn’t crazy, a *lot* of them know the Cantor’s and Bush’s of the world are losers.

    Don’t alienate them! Stick to Israel/Palestine. That’s the strength of this site. Stupid posts like this aren’t.

    • annie on June 11, 2014, 3:08 pm

      lol, i never ever supported obama bombing libya. and i certainly am not a “knee jerk” supporter of his. in fact i didn’t even bother going to the polls during the last prez election. you’re in a whiny mood today gazacalling.

      here’s something you might enjoy, cheer you up a little: Eric Cantor: Burned at the Steakhouse

      In a plot twist so bloody and twisted you’d think George R.R. Martin scripted it…….

      Ironically, Cantor was hoist on his own populist petard. A nakedly ambitious man, Cantor thought he could harness the populist rage of the Tea Party movement and use it to further his own political career – and the carried interest of his hedge-funder patrons.

      But having ushered these radicals to power in Congress, Cantor found he couldn’t lead them. He tried to earn their respect by appealing to their destructive impulses – blowing up Boehner and Obama’s “Grand Bargain.” But when Cantor sought to stand as a vaguely moderating force, seeking to rally the House GOP to stand for something more than the repeal of Obamacare, or trying to close ranks with John Boehner to avoid a government shutdown, Cantor was met less with respect than with wrath.

      In the end, the majority leader came off not as a principled reformer but as his true political self: an unctuous chameleon, a machine politician who could talk the Tea Party talk but never intended to walk the Tea Party walk.

      For this recklessness, Eric Cantor is done. Quoting John F. Kennedy last night, former Obama advisor David Axelrod tweeted these pointed words:

      “….those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.”

    • just on June 11, 2014, 3:22 pm

      Hey there. Cantor was a huge problem wrt I/P, and MW is covering it for good reason. Google Cantor and I/P– you’ll see what I mean, and why it matters VERY much. He was poised to become Speaker…

      Now he’s kaput, and the Republicans (and most Democrats) are in a bit of turmoil and shock. You don’t think that AIPAC is reeling???

      This ain’t no navel- gazing at all.

      Annie– I can personally attest to it being a big- time protest effort among sane and responsible Virginians with consciences. Love the “Burned at the Steakhouse”!

    • Woody Tanaka on June 11, 2014, 3:47 pm

      I wish that were true, but having talked to lots and lots of them, the number of anti-Islamic bigots, fiscal-minded who put money and commerce above human rights and Christian Zionists (all of whom spout the nonsense in Genesis 12:3) among conservatives is simply astounding.

    • adele on June 11, 2014, 4:12 pm

      Gazacalling….I don’t exactly remember the Republican base being allies with the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, do you?

      • adele on June 11, 2014, 4:39 pm

        PS: The way you depict and view the political world Gazacalling is based on binaries that have no relation to reality. Just because someone is a democrat doesn’t mean they are anti-imperialist, doesn’t mean they won’t support/execute the bombing of Libya. No one is defending Obama’s record in the Middle East; yes, we had hope, but at the end of the day Obama’s lofty words didn’t align with his actions. Just look at the love affair between the coup regime in Egypt w/ our political leaders of all stripes. And we all know how the “free-market” corporations and their gov’t-sponsored cheerleaders love plundering for profit. They always use some moralizing excuse, yesterday it was to civilize the savages, today’s moral is to lay the foundation for democracy (via war and tanks) and to liberate the oppressed women (did anyone ever ask those women what they wanted/needed?). Nothing new under the sun, hence the prefix “neo”….Neo-liberalists and Neo-imperialists and they come in both blue and red flavor. Successful alliances aren’t made based on labels but on values. If those republicans and democrats want to join us they are welcomed to, there is no membership fee.

      • just on June 11, 2014, 4:54 pm

        great post, adele.

    • Ellen on June 11, 2014, 4:56 pm

      gaza, I understand where you are coming from. The I/P issue is not a “liberal” or “conservative” issue. It is fundamental. Painting it as such — or even appearing to do so — does not help it.

      As for labeling anyone liberal or conservative? Why do that? It is what one does to divide.

      Having said that, I still do not know what is meant by “liberal” Zionist. I’d love to see an article explaining that someday. (but not by the house Professor Theologian.)

      • W.Jones on June 11, 2014, 5:21 pm


        Even in the 1950s there were left and right nationalists in the Israeli state. Chomsky was on a far left kibbutz that had expelled the nearby friendly Palestinian village.

      • RoHa on June 11, 2014, 6:57 pm

        I don’t know what Americans mean when they say “liberal”, but they do seem to agree with Private Willis that conservative and liberal are the fundamental, and the only, categories of political ideas.

    • David Doppler on June 11, 2014, 5:50 pm

      I think gaza has a point about the IP issue’s potential to draw people from across the political spectrum. People can be motivated by correcting injustice, by a desire for peace, by resenting the abuse of power and the endless mendacity of claiming victim hood while murdering and abusing a subjugated people, by being isolationist, by being anti-Zionist from within Judaism (from various current and historical perspectives), by righteous indignation from watching our elected officials crawl as supplicants to any foreign lobby, etc. Even in some case by Anti-Semitism. Remember the decades of slavers bashing abolitionists, and the concept of their valuable hatred informing a school of opinion that ultimately united the North in a very costly and bloody Civil War to end it. All those Northerners weren’t of one outlook, but in the end, they agreed slavery needed to be ended and the Union preserved, newly freed of America’s original sin.

      Now Israel, too, must atone for its.

      On the primary front, open primaries have been positive generally in securing more moderate, broad-appeal representatives. If Brat loses, and it looks like the Dems did him in by crossover voting in the primary, that could harm the trend to open primaries.

      • just on June 11, 2014, 7:04 pm

        We had another ‘original sin’ before slavery, David…it was the massacres of the indigenous folks.

        A lot of folks in VA were sick of Cantor– all across the political spectrum. The 7th district voters had more than one reason. It’s all for the common good, imho.

    • bilal a on June 12, 2014, 1:33 am

      If you stopped being so left-wing ideological, if you really put justice for the Palestinians first, above your own progressive self-image, if you were really willing to drop your preconceptions, think objectively and strategically about who your allies could be, you’d realize that the Republican base is ripe for an appeal.

      Right ON. Being liberal progressive is a secular conceit analogous to being ‘chosen’, born again, saved, religiously; alliances with the dreaded condemned other does not reinforce that conceit.

    • MRW on June 12, 2014, 2:40 am

      This was a referendum against Israel, and don’t think it wasn’t.

      • wondering jew on June 12, 2014, 5:15 am

        MRW wins the comment of the day award with this one. What percentage of those voting against Cantor did so because of opposition to Israel, just an estimate, please. I’d say somewhere between 0 and 7%. But I’d really like to hear your estimate, o’ wise one.

      • lysias on June 12, 2014, 10:03 am

        7% would be a significant part of the 11% margin.

  5. ritzl on June 11, 2014, 3:21 pm

    Your friend Beq’s interview was the best political news I’ve heard in a long, long time.

    I hope that the fact that left and far-right sort of came together to accomplish a common objective doesn’t begin and end with Cantor’s defeat. I hope they use this experience to forge bonds where they can to create solidarity at the political bottom to combat the “entrenched” interests at the political and economic top.

    Make the Koch bros and Soros irrelevant. It’s just so damn important to realign politics in the US, and it’s totally doable.

    • annie on June 11, 2014, 4:39 pm

      thanks ritzl, and i thought i would add, if i had had a chance to vote in virginia’s gop primary i would have done what beq did. just to unseat him.

      • ritzl on June 11, 2014, 4:50 pm

        Me too, Annie. He was an obstacle to change, however one defines change. Obstacle removed.

  6. Rusty Pipes on June 11, 2014, 3:53 pm

    While the votes for Cantor were lower than in the past and some of the votes against him were cast by independents, the Tea Party doesn’t deserve much credit for Republican votes for his opponent. Koch money was going to Cantor.

    Right-wing talk show hosts, like Laura Ingraham, are claiming credit for raising Brat’s profile and boosting his standing among hardline anti-immigration Republicans.

    • ritzl on June 11, 2014, 4:34 pm

      Hi Rusty. “Koch money was going to Cantor.” That sounds right. Do you have a link?

      I think there’s a huge [politically-exploitable?] difference between the astroturfed Koch Tea Party “agend-eers” and the profound and genuine angst (in common with we on the left) that causes right-leaning folks to band together organically, yet manifest their views differently. I think it’s important to make the distinction.

      Hope all is well…

      • ritzl on June 11, 2014, 4:41 pm

        I found this. Close enough…

        In a bitter irony for Democrats, two of the people who stand to gain the most from the fracas are none other than Charles and David Koch, the Republican billionaires who have tapped one of the world’s largest fortunes to cut down Democrats in elections and fuel conservative reforms. According to a lobbying disclosure form, lobbyists for the Koch empire have pushed for four of the most controversial deregulation provisions in Cantor’s latest endeavor.

    • annie on June 11, 2014, 4:35 pm

      i agree rusty, check this out:

      Tom Donahue, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Bloomberg TV that the Tea Party’s role in the race was exaggerated. “The Tea Party had nothing to do with this,” he said. “They didn’t put any money in. They didn’t have any people there. It was sort of an attractive professor in a very, very conservative district in Virginia. And everybody was surprised.”

      except that “very, very conservative district in Virginia” voted for obama for president. not sure about the last election but the one before that. it’s been traditionally republican, but i think that could be changing.

      and that sort of matches my friend’s observations.

      • ToivoS on June 11, 2014, 7:46 pm

        annie the district lines were changed in 2010 — a few dozen inner city precincts were chopped off and heavy Republican ones added. Romney won 57-43 over Obama in 2012.

        Most of the pros think that the dems cannot win here even against a moronic tea partier.

    • Citizen on June 12, 2014, 7:48 am

      Laura L was one of the few public voices against Cantor from the start; she was persistent.

  7. W.Jones on June 11, 2014, 5:42 pm

    So independents and Republicans were the two groups who could vote in the election, and the district had gone for Obama in the past, so he appeared to be too much an establishment figure?

    His campaign said that he had a strong lead. Perhaps their info was wrong.

    • annie on June 11, 2014, 6:57 pm

      So independents and Republicans were the two groups who could vote in the election

      nope, any registered voter in virginia’s 7th district, including dems, greens, you name it.

      • W.Jones on June 11, 2014, 8:47 pm

        Oh, well then Cantor’s loss is much easier to understand. He proved himself to be so much of a Neocon that Democrats wanted an alternative. I don’t see why democrats would not choose to vote in a GOP primary if they were able to, because of the importance of the vote.

  8. palijustice on June 11, 2014, 6:43 pm

    I always found Eric Cantor to be particularly obnoxious. His arrogance came across with that smirk. He was also the consummate Israel Firster in Congress and for that reason alone it’s very good that he lost. He also would be one of those reps who will try and ruin any negotiated deal with Iran.

    I hope a Democrat gets the seat–an antiwar Democrat, and one that is not afraid of AIPAC. In our Congress though, which is still Israeli occupied territory, standing up to Israeli apartheid, house demolitions and land theft, is still a far away, I’m sorry to say.

  9. Daniel Rich on June 11, 2014, 7:28 pm

    Ann Coulter、Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham all embraced Brat. What does that tell us?

  10. Citizen on June 12, 2014, 8:48 am

    Exactly a month ago Cantor gave a five minute speech in his home district to a 100% Republican audience. Half of what he said was met with loud boos and hisses. This didn’t generally get reported by the media and that media didn’t think to ask themselves, what does this mean? They didn’t raise that question to their readers and watchers:

  11. Nevada Ned on June 12, 2014, 9:07 am

    The pundits, who didn’t anticipate Cantor’s defeat, are now rushing to explain it!

    FWIW, Let me offer my own explanation:

    A LOT of people in the US are fed up and pissed off. They’re being screwed by an arrogant ruling class, and they know they’re being screwed. They have no faith in: Republicans or Democrats, unions or big business, or the Establishment media.

    They have a pretty good idea of what is being done to them, and who is doing it. And they have no faith that (for example) voting for a Democrat will make a difference.

    They are fed up with conventional politics, and the Occupy movement shows a potential for insurgency. In conventional politics, votes are the nominal source of power, and money is the real source of power.

    In this case, it was Eric Cantor who ended up in the crosshairs of popular rage and disgust.

    The Republicans got clobbered in 2008.
    The Democrats got clobbered in 2010.

    Earlier, in 1994, the Republicans took back the House, for the first time in a half century, under the leadership of Newt Gingrich, using the gimmick of a “contract with America”,
    a marketing ploy for a Republican party with no real new policies or ideas. (“Limiting government” is not a new idea, and not really a good idea).

    The only generalization about the electorate that I can support is that the electorate is getting more VOLATILE. And I can’t blame them at all.

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