FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The second most powerful man in the U.S. House was defeated in a primary Tuesday night. Eric Cantor, who’s from Virginia, lost his primary re-election bid to tea party candidate David Brat. Experts say the so-called tea party is rebuilding momentum. They say what happened in Virginia is something that should speak volumes to GOP legislators everywhere including those in Indiana.
“In the last 20 years, there have been a couple of examples of the speaker of the house losing or the majority leader of the senate losing, but not in a primary,” IPFW Political Science Professor Mike Wolf said.
With a historic win comes an important lesson. Mike Wolf, a political science professor at IPFW, says many things Cantor did and didn’t do contributed to his loss.
“I think it also demonstrates that when you’re a party leader you have to work across party lines. That’s part of the job of the organization of Congress.”
Many republicans say Cantor was ignoring the party’s beliefs on things like raising the debt ceiling and immigration. Something local tea party representative Emery McClendon says angered a lot of conservatives.
“People are just very weary. They’re asking questions. A lot of people are waking up,” local tea party representative Emery McClendon said, “You know they’re not listening, they’re not following through on things that constituents want.”
Which is helping build momentum behind tea party candidates like David Brat.
“A lot of the energy of the party is and remains with the so-called Tea Party, but it’s just Republican activism,” Wolf said.
Wolf doesn’t think democrats stand a chance seating someone in Cantor’s spot. But, he does say they may have had something to do with getting him unseated Tuesday night.
“One of my colleagues that lives in the district and is a political science scholar there suggested that a lot of this there has to do with the Democrats there seeing this is the only chance to sack Cantor because they don’t have a chance in the fall. So, maybe there was some gamesmanship by some Democrats crossing over or some other things.”
Wolf and McClendon agree, this goes to show Republicans they must follow through here in Indiana and elsewhere on things that their more conservative constituents want or it could cost them their job.