Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Is Brat's Challenge to Eric Cantor More Symbolism than Substance?

That is what is inferred in the last paragraph of a recent Jeff Schapiro article in the Richmond Times Dispatch:
Brat acknowledges that defeating Cantor is the longest of long shots. Turning out 600 people for a district convention is one thing. Turning out 6,000 voters in a district-wide, open-to-all primary is quite another. Brat’s people do believe they can deeply wound Cantor, by holding his majority in the primary to the low double-digits. That would be fighting fire with fire.

For all the talk that "conservatives" think Cantor has strayed off the reservation, he still has an American Conservative Union score of 84 for 2013, which is the second highest score in the Virginia delegation.  Cantor also had an A+ rating from the NRA-PVF in 2012 and he has done nothing in the last two years that would likely change that (the NRA-PVF has not posted ratings for the June 10th Primary as of this writing).

But, if those who have an axe to grind with Cantor could "wound" him by holding his vote total below say, 60% (the % of the vote he usually wins in a general election) then they could claim a "moral" victory and hope to find a candidate in two years who could raise money and give Cantor a real run for his money.  The last time that happened was in 2000 when he won the nomination against an under-financed State Senator Steve Martin.  Unlike Brat however, Martin had worked the district hard for years expecting Cantor's predecessor, Thomas J. "Tom" Bliley would retire at some point.  That primary was the last time Cantor had a close race.

The anti-Cantor forces scored a small victory this past Saturday when the chairman of the 7th Congressional District Republican Committee was defeated for re-election.  It adds to the number of local committees taken over by the Tea Party since 2012.  Their next battle will likely be to change the nominating process from primary to nominating convention.  That task will be as difficult as taking out Cantor in a primary since state law gives the incumbent the say in how he will be re-nominated.

There is a lesson in this for gun owners.  No one expected the incumbent chairman to lose.  Bearing Drift noted after Saturday's 7th District Republican Convention that he lost because "status quo" conservatives were sitting on the sidelines.  The Tea Party folks were energized enough and showed up on a beautiful Saturday in Richmond to win a narrow victory.  Gun owners can never get complacent lest we meet the same fate.

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