Personal Liberty Poll
As the GOP establishment tries to close ranks following Tuesday’s stunning primary defeat of six-term incumbent Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va.), it’s receiving a perverse kind of solace from across the political aisle.
Presumably because it’s in the interest of the Democratic Party’s own establishment to have malleable Republican peers to work with, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday called on voters, if they must elect a Republican, to elect Republicans like establishment darling Senator Lindsey Graham, who sailed through the crowded South Carolina Republican primary on the same day Cantor took his beating.
Reid’s message was one of preaching to the establishment choir.
“I believe the Republicans should follow the lead of Lindsey Graham,” he said. “Lindsey Graham was part of the Gang of Eight to come up with immigration reform. He never backed down, backed up. He kept going forward on this issue.
“We need more Republicans who are Lindsey Grahams. Lindsey Graham is a very conservative man, but I’ve worked with him on a number of issues, some of which we don’t even talk about publicly.”
Graham won his State’s GOP primary despite passionate opposition from jaded South Carolina conservatives for siding with the Administration of Barack Obama on controversial partisan issues. Six Republican challengers, all attacking Graham from the right, jockeyed for space on the primary ballot. None was able to distinguish himself against the field, and Graham cruised through the election, even though his popularity among the party’s base is weak.
By contrast, Cantor faced a single challenger Tuesday in the Virginia GOP primary: Tea Party newcomer Dave Brat, a professor of Economics at Randolph-Macon College. While knee-jerk punditry has credited a single issue (immigration) for propelling Brat to a surprise victory, Brat ran to the right of Cantor not only on immigration reform, but also on Federal spending and for going along simply to get along with the Obama Administration.
“Immigration was the surface reason that galvanized the opposition to Cantor, but the opposition could not have been galvanized with this issue had Cantor been a better congressman these past few years,” conservative pundit Erick Erickson wrote Wednesday. “He and his staff have repeatedly antagonized conservatives. One conservative recently told me that Cantor’s staff were the ‘biggest bunch of a**holes on the Hill.’ … Cantor lost his race because he was running for Speaker of the House of Representatives while his constituents wanted a congressman.”