Tea Party on Cantor's Defeat: 'Warning Bell' for GOP

Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 11:48 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Tea party advocates nationwide cheered the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by challenger Dave Brat in the Virginia Republican primary Tuesday, declaring it a harbinger of what's to come at the polls in November.

"Cantor lost touch with the basic conservative principles on key issues we fight for," Washington lawyer Cleta Mitchell told Newsmax. She represents several tea party groups that have been targeted by the Internal Revenue Service.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

"His loss should be a warning bell to the GOP establishment in D.C., particularly on fundamental issues such as voting rights and amnesty."

Jenny Beth Martin, chairman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, said that "analysts will be poring over election returns for months trying to explain how it was that a college professor who had never run for office before was able to defeat the second-most-powerful Republican in the House despite being outspent 15-to-1."

"We can save them the time and trouble: Dave Brat won in Virginia because he effectively harnessed the outrage at Washington over the policies that have not been representative of the people," Martin said.

In the most stunning loss of this Republican primary season, Cantor lost to Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College who was backed by the tea party.

Brat won 55.4 percent of the vote to Cantor's 44.6 percent. Cantor, 51, was first elected to the House in 2000 and was considered a successor to House Speaker John Boehner should Boehner decide to retire after the November elections.

Brat, 49, who holds a doctorate in economics from American University and a master's of divinity from Princeton Theological University, faces Democrat Jack Trammell on Nov. 4.

Trammell is an administrator and associate sociology professor, also at Randolph-Macon. The college is situated outside Richmond.

"Folks are looking at issues that are most important to them and are voting that way at the polls," Joshua Jones, president and CEO of Red Clay Communications, an Atlanta-based firm that advised the Brat campaign, told Newsmax. "Folks really turned out and voted their conscience."

Given that Brat was greatly outspent by Cantor — $200,000 to $5.5 million, according to news reports — Jones said it was critical to emphasize the incumbent's record and his close association with Democrats.

"Showing the fact that he had worked so closely with Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama on a number of issues really resonated with the voters," Jones said. "Folks elected him believing that he would be a true conservative and would stand up to the special interests — and it simply didn't happen.

"He was outspent considerably and he was able to pull off a brilliant victory," he said.

Perhaps "the deciding factor" in the race was illegal immigration, Jones said.

"That is an issue that is really prominent in the country. You're looking at a country that is financially in a difficult strait. There are a lot of issues to look at on the immigration front. It resonated with a lot of people."

Other tea party leaders echoed similar sentiments.

"Americans are always forward-thinking," Gregg Phillips, chairman of the Voters Trust, a tea party group based in Dallas, told Newsmax. "What you saw tonight was a reaction to America just saying enough is enough from these left-of-center Republicans who simply do not understand that this is a conservative America.

"This is a conservative electorate," Phillips said. "They simply will not stand for people double-talking, people saying one thing and doing another and being all about money, power and control.

"It's about America and it's about Americans. It's about the people and returning power to the people."

Brat's victory also boosted the hopes of tea party candidates in other Republican Senate primaries across the country.

"No race should be taken for granted, and all the money and position in the world doesn't resonate with an electorate that is fed up with a Washington establishment that has abandoned conservative principles," said Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr, who is challenging longtime U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in an Aug. 7 primary.

"From Virginia to Mississippi, a transformational change is underway that is being led by a true grassroots movement," Carr said.

Milton Wolf, a physician who is challenging Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts in a coming GOP primary, said:

"Eric Cantor isn't the only incumbent who is going to lose his primary this year. On Aug. 5, it's Pat Roberts' turn."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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