House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was defeated by Tea Party challenger David Brat in Tuesday’s Congressional Primary.
Cantor, 51, was the second most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives and the assumed heir apparent to John Boehner. He was expected to sail to victory against a relative political novice in Brat, but obviously that prognostication was very, very wrong.
Brat’s win will have massive reverberations – for both parties.
Cantor had fallen out of favor with non-establishment Republicans in recent years, but the tipping point may have been his openness to immigration reform. Given how things have turned out, it is safe to say that no Republicans will get near immigration from this point forward.
There will be plenty of time to analyze this race in greater detail, but here are the main takeaways from this evening’s events: 1.) the Tea Party’s supposed political ineffectiveness has been greatly exaggerated, 2.) establishment Republicans everywhere will scramble to the right in order to avoid suffering a Cantor-like fate, and 3.) there is now a massive Republican leadership vacuum beneath Boehner.