Matt Kibbe: Cantor Lost Because He Sold Out His District

Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 06:06 PM

By Cathy Burke

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary election because he "really represented Washington, D.C., instead of his home district in Virginia," says Matt Kibbe, of the conservative lobbying group FreedomWorks.

Kibbe told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV on Tuesday that the veteran lawmaker "spent all of his time and energy planning his takeover of the [House] speaker's job instead of paying any attention to the folks back home."

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Kibbe noted the tea party-backed economics professor Dave Brat, who pulled off the upset, put his finger on exactly what the issue was for voters, arguing Cantor dismissed "grassroots activists."

"Dave Brat was quite clear that this was as much about the crony capitalism and [Cantor's] very close relationship to … the GOP leadership and the House," he said. "That was part of it. There was also a lot of hubris and arrogance the way that the Cantor machine treated the grassroots activists not only in his own district but statewide in Virginia."

Kibbe said Cantor’s "biggest mistake" was to try to "dictate from the top down."

"If you want to lead the Republican Party circa 2014, you have to understand how to engage citizens from the bottom up as opposed to telling them what to do from the top down," he said.

Cantor's fluctuating stand on immigration also played a part in his defeat, Kibbe said.

"It goes back to representing Washington, D.C., representing those business lobbyists as opposed to putting his ideas on the table," Kibbe said. "For a guy that was supposedly an ideas guy, it was hard to figure out what exactly he was for."

Though the race now to succeed Cantor in the House leadership job seems to favor Kevin McCarthy, Kibbe calls him "Cantor's mini-me."

"He's almost an exact replica, although his vote rating with FreedomWorks is actually a little bit worse than Eric Cantor's was, which is not an easy thing to do as a Republican leader," he said.

"The world has changed and Raul Labrador's ability to connect with Americans outside the Beltway is exactly what the Republicans in the House leadership need. The question is, are they going to see that? This is a secret vote and I suspect that a lot of members that are afraid of leadership are publicly pledging support to Kevin McCarthy and secretly thinking, 'we really need to do something different.'"

Labrador can prove to be the upset winner  —  just like Brat, Kibbe said.

"It would be another one of those shocks much like Eric Cantor losing," he said. "But remember, there's a whole new set of leadership fights after the November election… . this is a perfect time for an outsider, somebody different, someone to bring that authentic perspective of real conservatives back to the GOP. Lightning can strike twice."

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