The defeat of Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader in his Congressional primary in Virginia by David Brat, was stunning and shocking, but not the first time that a Congressional leader was defeated for renomination or reelection.
Other prominent cases include:
Senator Richard Lugar, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, of Indiana in 2012 by Richard Mourdock
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota in 2004 by John Thune
House Speaker Tom Foley of Washington State in 1994 by George Nethercutt
Former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois in 1994 by Michael Flanagan
Congressman Emanuel Celler, House Judiciary Committee Chairman of New York, in 1972 by Elizabeth Holtzman
Senate Majority Leader Scott Lucas of Illinois in 1950 by Everett Dirksen
Senator Robert La Follette, Jr of Wisconsin in 1946 by Joseph McCarthy
Notice that ONLY Cantor, Lugar and La Follette, Jr. were Republican officeholders defeated, while the others listed were all Democrats.
So it is newsworthy and highly unusual for Congressional leaders and prominent members to lose reelection!
Now that Eric Cantor is being forced out of Congress by his Virginia district, the battle is on over who should be House Majority Leader, and the Tea Party Movement and Right Wing Talk Radio has come out fighting against present House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.
Right wing radio critics, including Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, who worked against Eric Cantor and for his opponent in the primary, David Brat, condemn McCarthy as part of the “Establishment”, as much as Cantor and Speaker of the House John Boehner, and the Tea Party is ready to fight anyone connected to any cooperation on any matter with Barack Obama. Despite strong opposition and criticism by Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy toward Barack Obama, they can all be accused of making some agreements with him, including ending the government shutdown, and planning some kind of immigration reform, although far less than Obama has wanted.
The fact is that McCarthy, as conservative as he is, comes across as “moderate”, less combative in rhetoric, more congenial, a more pleasant persona than either Cantor or Boehner. The fact that he comes from California is seen, however, as a negative, since the Tea Party gets its strength from the “heartland” of the nation.
The fear is that if McCarthy becomes second ranking House Republican, one is looking at the potential future Speaker of the House, as Cantor was thought to be, until his defeat this week.
So the civil war in the GOP continues to fester and boil over!