Tuesday’s defeat of U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his Virginia district’s Republican primary is a shocker. Here’s the short version of the lessons to be pondered:
* The congressman was inconsistent in what he told constituents and various special interests, especially regarding amnesty for illegal immigrants. He told constituents in mailings he was against it, yet he told Democrat congressional colleagues and journalists the opposite. Remember Politics 101: Strive to be consistent. People and groups compare notes and can read. (If an elected official sincerely changes a position on a policy issue, be honest and upfront about it.)
* There is always a local angle to politics. Cantor lost touch with his constituents and there were warning signs he missed or dismissed — like being booed by conservatives at a recent meeting. He meddled in internal Virginia GOP politics and made needless enemies. Furthermore, he was cocky on Capitol Hill the morning of his primary going to Starbucks and hobnobbing with pals on the House floor rather than being seen in his district. One anti-Cantor TV ad effectively asked: “When was the last time you saw Eric Cantor?”
Dave Brat, the woefully underfunded winner, took a popular hard line in support of restoring border security (especially in light of the massive wave of illegals pouting across the open southwestern border) and emphasized that Cantor wasn’t aggressive enough in fighting President Obama’s policies. Cantor overreacted by calling the outsider Brat a “radical professor”– which the free-market proponent most certainly is not. (That charge made even more voters aware that he had a serious challenger.) Also factor in that Cantor employed a terrible pollster, John McLaughlin, who incredibly had numbers showing the incumbent winning by a landslide.
Now let’s turn to the Georgia GOP U.S. Senate runoff featuring Rep. Jack Kingston and outsider businessman David Perdue. Is Kingston another Cantor? Reflect on the two points listed at the beginning:
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