Many people are saying that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary election defeat by political newcomer David Brat was a wake-up call for Republicans on immigration reform, but Republican strategist Ford O'Connell doesn't think that's the whole story.
"I'm not sure I totally buy that, but I promise you we won't be hearing about immigration reform from House Republicans for quite some time," O'Connell told Newsmax TV's
J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Wednesday.
A big part of the upset, O'Connell said, is that voters in Virginia's 7th Congressional District decided they just did not want to vote for Cantor.
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"This was really about Virginia 7 not digging on the incumbent, Eric Cantor, and David Brat, I tip my hat to him," said O'Connell. "He tapped into that when no one else believed him, including outside tea party groups."
In addition, O'Connell said, Cantor ran an "arrogant" race against Brat.
"He spent more on steaks in D.C. last year than he did on field operations," said O'Connell. "He could have done a lot more. He didn't put enough in polling and in field operations."
Scottie Nell Hughes, news director for the Tea Party News Network, also appearing on "America's Forum," said Cantor's loss is a major boost for the grassroots movement, and it boils down to one word: immigration."
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"It shows the conservative voters in the 7th District didn't like his policies," said Hughes. "The rest of the conservative voters in America don't like it either."
But the vote sparked a great deal of momentum for tea party supporters nationwide, Hughes said.
"I always say that freedom is the best caffeine, and last night the American people got to feel freedom," Hughes said.
Although Cantor said in his concession speech Tuesday night that the vote came up short, Hughes strongly disagreed.
"Coming up short, that's 1 or 2 percent," she said, pointing out that Cantor went down by a 56 percent to 44 percent.
"Eric Cantor, that was not short," said Hughes. "That was truly a message right there. Considering you spent 25-1 on David Brat, the people of that district realize that your . . . votes were anything but conservative."
Hughes said she "loves congressmen who get to office and say that they want to do all these things as a conservative . . . however, these lawmakers' actions often speak louder than do their words."
Meanwhile, she also thinks tea party favorite Joe Carr has the ability to pull a surprise on Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.
"That's the great thing about our movement," Hughes said.
"Here is the difference, though. Lamar Alexander has been in office, he has been in some form of government, since literally the 1970s. You cannot get more establishment than Lamar Alexander these days. Joe Carr has a proven conservative track record."
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