The media are abuzz with analysis over Prof. Dave Brat’s win over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th District Republican primary. Many are concluding that his pro-amnesty views were a major factor, given that Prof. Brat emphasized them at every turn, and that Republicans are not likely to want to take up immigration reform this year after seeing voters reprimand a leading amnesty advocate. Below are excerpts from some of the media reports.
New Republic: “The obvious explanation for Cantor’s defeat is immigration. And in this case, the obvious explanation is probably right. Brat hammered Cantor for his supposed support of “amnesty.” Cantor swore the charge was untrue and, lord knows, he wasn't doing anything to advance the cause of immigration reform publicly. It appears the voters didn’t believe him. But the Virginians who rejected Cantor may have been rejecting more than his position on immigration. Brat’s campaign portrayed Cantor as a creature of Washington and an ally of special interests, particularly those representing the financial industry. "Another power-hungry Washington insider" is how one advertisement described him.”
Miami Herald: “And amid the ashes of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking defeat Tuesday night, comprehensive immigration reform smolders....Cantor’s defeat to tea partier David Brat was so intertwined with immigration — “amnesty” and “illegal aliens” — that the few fence-sitters in the GOP-led House are going to flock back to the politically right side of the divide....Even the DREAM Act — which once seemed a relatively easy lift because it’s aimed at illegal-immigrant children brought to this country through no fault of their own — now looks like an increasingly heavy lift.”
ABC’s Rick Klein: “The issue that got Brat going in his primary win was immigration, portraying Cantor as a proponent of “amnesty,” which is a stretch even in the bounds of political rhetoric. Cantor’s loss effectively eliminates any slim chance the U.S. House of Representatives had of passing immigration reform along the lines of the Senate bill this year. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will face even more — and now, likely overwhelming — pressure to shelve these efforts, given the message that just got delivered to his top lieutenant.”
The Atlantic: “Cantor's loss will prompt the reexamination of some other pieces of conventional wisdom: One, that the Tea Party is dead—clearly, at least in one restive precinct, anti-Washington anger is alive and well. And two, that supporting immigration reform doesn't necessarily hurt Republicans in primaries—Cantor's supposed support for "amnesty" was Brat's chief line of attack. Supporters of immigration reform now fear that Republican members of Congress, leery of touching the issue before, now will never be persuaded that it is not politically toxic. As one immigration-reform-supporting conservative operative emailed me mournfully: "I can't vote for Democrats because I am pro-life, but my party seems beyond repair."
New Republic: Immigration Reform Died With Eric Cantor's Shocking Loss to a Tea Party Challenger....If immigration reform had any hope in the House before Tuesday, it certainly doesn’t have any now after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary to tea party challenger Dave Brat....The immediate policy implications of this are clear: Immigration reform is completely dead. It was a very longshot before Tuesday night. Now, it’s 100 percent over. Cantor’s loss shows how toxic the subject is for any incumbent Republican. It doesn’t bode well for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential ambitions as well.”
LA Times: The outcome was certain to not only ignite a leadership battle among the Republican majority in the House, but also to send a shudder though rank-and-file lawmakers who may become less willing to stray from tea party orthodoxy, particularly in the continuing debate over immigration reform...."Too bad Rep. Cantor didn't steal a page from Sen. Lindsey Graham, who leaned into the issue, was unapologetic about his principled stand and won his primary handily," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration advocacy group America's Voice.”
Politico: “Supporters of reform are quick to note that Sen. Lindsey Graham easily won his primary and avoided a runoff in conservative South Carolina despite his support for the controversial Senate bill. But GOP members who are vulnerable to a primary challenge will be very hard pressed vote for such a bill post-Cantor. The news will also work against Jeb Bush and, to a lesser extent, Marco Rubio, in the 2016 silent primary. Both Floridians have been supportive of reform, and Bush took heat earlier this year for saying people immigrate to the U.S. illegally as an “act of love” for their families. Each could still be the nominee, but the narrative on the right that they have a base problem is going to work against them.”
NBC’s Chuck Todd: “The first repercussion: It pretty much ends the chance of immigration reform getting done this year (and maybe the rest of the Obama presidency). As we’ve constantly written, immigration continues to be the issue that tears the Republican Party apart. And that was especially true in Virginia, where Cantor’s victorious opponent, Dave Brat, blasted the No. 2 House Republican for supporting a “Dream Act”-like proposal to provide a path to citizenship for children who were brought to the United States illegally. Immigration was the culprit for John McCain’s near-death experience in 2008; it was the reason (before “oops”) why Rick Perry lost in 2012; and it was the chief issue Mitt Romney used to bolster his conservative bona fides with GOP primary voters. Yes, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) own primary victory last night was an example of a pro-immigration-reform Republican winning with a conservative electorate (more on that below). But remember, the immigration ball is in House’s court, not the Senate’s. And Graham, unlike Cantor, was simply a smarter tactical politician when it came to changing the subject and finding others issues to animate the base.”
NY Times's Nate Cohen: Regardless of the exact reason for Mr. Cantors defeat, the news media's focus on immigration is likely to deter Republicans from supporting comprehensive immigration reform. It could even discourage Republican presidential candidates in 2016, when the party will need to broaden its appeal to Hispanic voters in states like Florida.
Bloomberg: "It is stunning on so many levels," said Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary to President George W. Bush and a onetime House aide. "The most important is it likely means that there is no chance that immigration reform gets on the House floor this summer."...
Associated Press: “But its impact on the fate of immigration legislation in the current Congress seemed clearer still. Conservatives will now be emboldened in their opposition to legislation to create a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally, and party leaders who are more sympathetic to such legislation will likely be less willing to try.”
Tucker Carlson on Breitbart TV: "I mean, if you look at what Brat was saying, he wasn't making the case against amnesty – lots of people do that. He was making a case for better wages. His point was, look you import immigrants, you've got a labor shortage. We have persistent high unemployment. This will inevitably depress wages for middle class workers. Making that case connects with the exact group of voters Republicans need in order to win, which is the broad middle of the country. People are really hurting in the middle of the recession. And that’s why he won."
And finally, a quote from Prof. Brat that explains why his immigration-reduction message resonated with so many working Americans: "Eric Cantor is saying we should bring more folks into the country, increase the labor supply - and by doing so, lower wage rates for the working person."
Updated: Wed, Jun 25th 2014 @ 10:55am EDT