The unexpected defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., by economics professor Dave Brat in Tuesday night's GOP primary stunned the No. 2 Republican in U.S. House of Represenatives. Now his party is grappling with the fallout, which includes issues ranging from Congressional leadership to immigration policy.
Speaking of his loss to the Randolph-Macon College professor, Cantor said he was disappointed in the race’s outcome.
“I know there’s a lot of long faces here tonight, and it’s disappointing, sure, but I believe in this country, I believe there’s an opportunity around the next corner for all of us,” Cantor, who represents an area south of Washington, D.C., and north of Richmond, Virginia, told reporters.
Just hours after those remarks the Republican Party got another shock when the seven-term Congressman announced he was resigning his post as the Majority Leader.
The loss, after Cantor spent close to $5 million in the campaign, places the GOP in a difficult position. Cantor was an ally to the Tea Party members in the House, and was deemed the likely successor to House Speaker John Boehner. But the efforts of Brat and his grassroots movement-- which was not supported by national Tea Party groups like FreedomWorks, Tea Party Express and Tea Party Patriots -- allowed Brat to triumph.
Here are five ways Bart’s win may affect the GOP.
Compromise Remains A Distant Reality
While the GOP was shocked by Cantor’s loss, Brat's win is not expected to produce a big change in the GOP leadership's interest, or lack thereof, in compromise. “House GOPers weren't seriously contemplating compromise before Cantor's loss and they're not contemplating it after his loss,” Vox’s Ezra Klein said. The parties will likely remain divided, seeing that most House GOPers were far from willing to consider any deals with House Democrats. Cantor was labeled as a compromiser by Brat. So his loss will lead more House Republicans to challenge President Obama and Democrats to avoid being seen as abandoning party principles.
Growing Uncertainty In GOP Leadership
Cantor's primary loss and planned July 31 resignation as Majority Leader hints at a possible shakeup of party leadership, speculates CBS News. The now-vacant role could lead to some disgruntled representatives to try to take the party reins. Cantor's loss leads to the question of who will replace House Speaker John Boehner when he steps down. Cantor was considered Boehner's successor, but his absence will require a search for a new leader of the largely divided GOP. Though a few names are being tossed around, a glaring vacancy now remains for the Speaker role.
An End To The Immigration Discussion
Another major repercussion of Cantor’s loss will be the talks surrounding immigration reform. Though Brat spoke heavily on the issue, House Republicans have basically abandoned any attempts at reforming current polices. Tea Party Republicans have continually opposed most of the Obama administration's proposed changes to immigration laws. Without Cantor to rally Republicans, immigration will remain at a standstill for the remainder of the year.
Anxious Incumbents In The Upcoming Primaries
Cantor's primary loss could augur additional defeats for centrist GOPers in upcoming primaries. Tea Party candidate Milton Wolf, who is running against Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas, is already predicting additional losses for incumbents this year. "Eric Cantor isn't the only incumbent from Virginia who is going to lose his primary this year,” Wolf said in a statement to reporters. “On August 5th, it’s Pat Roberts' turn.” The effort to remove Cantor was actually not supported by all members of the Tea Party. The takedown was organized by a grassroots effort, and its success will likely encourage similar movements against incumbents in other states.
Changes To The Presidential Election Roster
Many are now speculating Cantor’s loss may lead rumored presidential election candidates to consider not running in 2016, reports NBC News. With their views on immigration reform, it is believed that rumored 2016 candidate possibilities like Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., may change their minds about running. The Republican party has been greatly divided for the past couple of years. And Bart’s win on Tuesday highlights a continued ideological division that could derail the campaigns of the 2016 election contenders.