House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's loss last week in the Virginia Republican primary should be a wake-up call to GOP leaders, Rep. Tim Huelskamp said.
"What I am hearing around the country is concern and discontent and a belief that the Republican establishment continues to ignore the tea party and conservatives," the tea party-backed Kansas congressman told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee Saturday on his Fox News program. "It finally bowled up in Virginia.
"The establishment beat up on the tea party and conservatives more than they do the president," he added. "It happened in this one race."
Cantor resigned his No. 2 leadership post on Wednesday after he lost to David Brat, a political novice and economic professor who was supported by the tea party. Cantor outspent his challenger by 10-to-1, only to come up on the losing end of Tuesday's election.
His resignation takes effect next month and has set off a scramble among House Republicans. Leading the field in Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, whom Cantor endorsed in his resignation speech.
A conservative Republican, Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, is also seeking the leadership post. House Speaker John Boehner, who has been criticized by both Labrador and Huelskamp, has said he intends to seek another term after the November elections.
Huelskamp, who lost two key committee assignments after attacking Boehner in 2012, called Brat "a great candidate," adding that he "will make a great congressman."
He told Huckabee that while it was important to back the GOP leadership, "in the end, voters rule. And that is great to see.
"You have to represent the constituents. Eric Cantor pushed for higher spending, and he was not pushing back against the president."
Huelskamp endorsed Labrador for majority leader.
"There would be a new face and vision and new ideas," he said. "Kevin McCarthy would be very similar to Cantor, and they have been around a long time."
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