Republicans can't allow the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to open the door for the "Ted Cruzes and the Rand Pauls to take over" the GOP, Rep. Peter King said.
Cantor's defeat in Virginia's Republican primary Tuesday to economics professor Dave Brat sent shock waves through political circles. Brat walked away with the primary win with 55.5 percent of the vote to Cantor's 45.5 percent. Polls leading into the election showed Cantor with a healthy lead over Brat.
King told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" the approach of fellow Republican Sen. Cruz of Texas tarnished the party's brand when he led the shutdown of the government in October. King said the "overwhelming majority of the country" thought lawmakers were "crazy" and "irresponsible" to have allowed it to happen.
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King warned that the politics of the more conservative GOP party members such as Cruz and Sen. Paul of Kentucky would be detrimental to the GOP because he claimed they did not represent conservative views.
"What Ted Cruz did last year was suicidal. I hope that doesn't become party policy. So, we can't allow Eric's defeat last night, allow the Ted Cruzes and the Rand Pauls to take over the party, or their disciples to take over the party," King said.
"This is not conservatism. To me, shutting down the government is not being a conservative."
King, a New York Republican, said he didn't think anyone in the House on Tuesday anticipated Cantor would lose.
"Yesterday, if you went around the House floor, people thought that if Eric got less than 65 percent of the vote it would have been considered a defeat. It was just a question of how high the majority was going to be," King said.
It's uncertain whether or not Cantor's position on immigration reform was what motivated voters. On Monday, Cantor had renewed a push on amnesty reform for children, urging President Barack Obama to work with Congress on moving forward on legislation.
King said he was concerned Cantor's loss would not only slow down possible immigration reform, but all legislation leading into the fall midterm elections.
"My concern is that a lot of things are going to be dead and pushed to the side. I'm concerned that the Ted Cruz supporters, the Rand Paul supporters, are going to use this as an excuse to basically stop the government from functioning," King said.
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