In a stunning upset, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary this evening in Virginia’s 7th congressional district to Tea Party challenger David Brat. Nearly every observer, from the Washington Post to Cantor’s own internal polling, indicated he would win by a comfortable margin. While Cantor had raised over $5 million for his campaign, his challenger Brat collected only $207,000. Astonishingly, it was not enough.
With the loss, Cantor became the first sitting majority leader to fail to be renominated since the office was created in 1899, and the Republican party likely lost its only Jewish member of Congress. (Cantor’s only recourse at present is to launch a long shot write-in campaign for the general election.) He is the highest ranking elected Jewish official in American history.
Cantor originally joined Congress in 2000, and rose to Majority Leader in 2011 when Republicans retook the House. His dramatic defeat has prompted shock in many quarters, including among his Jewish allies like Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition:
Numb. Speechless. Sad
— Matt Brooks (@Mbrooksrjc) June 11, 2014
On the other side of the aisle, many celebrated Cantor’s unexpected downfall, with Mother Jones editor Dave Gilson cracking, “‘Brat Upsets Cantor’ is the name of my bar mitzvah memoir.”