Support VSSA Advertisers

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cantor Loses Primary , Democrats Find 11th Hour Candidate for 7th District

Back when everyone thought Eric Cantor was a shoe-in for re-election, the 7th District Democrats decided they would not run a sacrificial lamb.  But it appears the 7th District Democratic Committee had second thoughts and nominated John "Jack" Trammell two days before the GOP primary.  Trammell is an associate professor at Randolph-Macon College, the same place that employs Brat.

Reading news clips and listening to talk radio this morning, much is being made of the "historic" nature of Cantor's loss.  There is also a lot of talk about Brat's Tea Party connections and how the "Tea Party Roared."  It's likely less due to the Tea Party and more along the lines of what an unnamed "GOP strategist" told the Roanoke Times last night during a conversation at the Cantor election party wake and reported by the Times this morning:
“This is what happens when you don’t tend the weeds in your backyard,” the strategist said. He went on to question Cantor’s decision to go on television — a strategy that may have raised Brat’s profile and let more voters know about the race. “Six weeks ago, Brat was an unknown. The question will be: Did the campaign overreact?”
Something happened between 2012 and 2014.  Jim Geraghty noted on the Campaign Spot that in 2012, Cantor took 79of the vote in his primary.  He also notes turnout wasn't the issue.  It was higher than 2012:
Cantor and his allies can’t blame low turnout for this one. My old colleague Derek Willis noted that the 2012 primary turnout was surpassed with only 71 percent of the precincts reporting. “People who ran David Brat’s turnout operation are gonna be getting some phone calls, methinks.” 
A perfect storm appears to have been created in the last year that led to last night's surprise upset.  In full disclosure, I have known Cantor for years.  I also personally know many of the former Cantor supporters who were supporting Brat and, who in my opinion, made this more personal toward some of the players than it should have been.  And, I know Cantor's consultant.  Cantor became the target for the anger caused by events that began in the run-up to this year's GOP mass meetings and state nominating convention, orchestrated by Cantor's consultant, and likely with the approval of Cantor.  They were tactics that were regularly used in the 80's when I was cutting my teeth in politics.  They served only to tick off people and had for the most part been tossed in the waste can, until this year.  Bearing Drift does a good job of explaining those events in this post.  In short it can be summed up like this:
Don’t piss off the grassroots.
John Fund confirmed this when he wrote on National Review Online:
Primaries are often criticized for low voter turnout. But they are also expressions of the grassroots sentiments of political parties. The lesson tonight is that establishment candidates ignore their most ardent voters at their peril. As political analyst Stuart Rothenberg put it tonight: “The GOP establishment’s problem isn’t with the Tea Party. It’s with Republican voters.”
So, Brat is to be congratulated on his win.  He energized grassroots and it paid dividends.  But now he has to figure out how to raise money for a general election because you can bet the Democrats would love to try and make this a race.  The district is drawn to favor the GOP, but if you can't raise money to get your message out, that advantage may evaporate.

No comments: