After former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor fell from grace during the contested primary in Virginia in 2014, lawmakers from the commonwealth have learned that they would rather upset the Republican leadership than their voters.
Newly elected Rep. Dave Brat defeated Cantor in a stunning upset in June 2014.
According to The Washington Post,
Cantor's exit from office has created a power vacuum among the Virginia lawmakers, and it has left the current delegation more willing to go against what the party leaders want so as not to upset their conservative constituents, calling it the "Dave Brat effect."
For example, during the fight over using the Department of Homeland Security funding bill to defund President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, five Virginia Republican lawmakers were unwavering in their support for defunding Obama's controversial immigration policy.
Republicans told the Post that such a group defection among the delegation would have never passed under Cantor.
"Without Eric here, then one of the arm-twisters is silenced," said Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, who also stood against Obama's executive actions.
Virginia Reps. Brat, J. Randy Forbes, Robert Hurt, H. Morgan Griffith and Rob Wittman all voted against the three-week and one-week extensions of DHS funding, which the Republican leadership wanted them to support.
However, Wittman claims that his vote was not in response to what happened with Cantor, but that he has always stood in opposition to short-term budget fixes.
Griffith said that while there were one-on-one conversations with other members of the Virginia delegation, there was no group discussion. However, he did add that with Cantor out of office, there was no one among Virginia lawmakers who is in the leadership to lobby for their votes like Cantor typically did.
Two more Virginia lawmakers — Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Scott Rigell — also joined the five in voting against the no-strings-attached funding bill. Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock, who hails from a moderate district near the nation's capital, supported all three funding measures.
When Brat ran against Cantor in the Virginia primary, he was especially vocal about the former majority leader's stance on immigration, alleging that Cantor supports amnesty.
According to a poll following Cantor's defeat,
52 percent of voters said that the former majority leader's support for amnesty for illegal immigrants played at least some part in their decision to vote for Brat.
James Parmelee of the Northern Virginia Republican PAC contends that Cantor's loss serves as a reminder to the Virginia lawmakers what is possible if they don't remain loyal to conservative policies.
"You never know which vote or which series of votes are going to be the ones to spark a primary," Parmelee said.
Upcoming votes on a highway funding bill, the Export-Import Bank and another Homeland Security funding bill may serve as more opportunities to see if the Virginia delegation continues to move right.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.