* The race to succeed Eric Cantor as Majority Leader has come down to two men: Kevin McCarthy of California and Pete Sessions of Texas. Here’s the Post’s overview explaining what’s really going on and what it means.
* A poll from a conservative pro-immigration group suggests that immigration may not have been as big a deal in the race as most have assumed:
A total of 77% cited other factors such as Cantor’s perceived focus on ‘national politics instead of local needs’ and a belief he had ‘lost touch with voters.’ Obamacare and the expansion of the national debt were seen as much more harmful to America than immigration reform.
But what matters is how the loss is interpreted, whatever the truth.
* And Alex Roarty with a good piece explaining why Cantor’s loss will chill immigration reform, even if it wasn’t actually about immigration: “the failure of a GOP leader considered untouchable in his home district will have every Republican asking the same question: Could it happen to me?”
* Jonathan Capehart tells Democrats not to gloat over Eric Cantor’s loss:
Sure, it’s fun for Democrats to watch Republicans fight amongst themselves and hand their nominations to the fringe of their base. But if Democrats don’t vote in the numbers they need to in November, those folks who are more conservative than the ultra-conservative members already gumming up the works will come to Washington. If the threat of that is not enough of a wake-up call for Democratic voters, I don’t know what is.
Every poll that has asked the question shows Republicans more likely to turn out to vote in November than Democrats are. And so far, there’s little to suggest that won’t be the case.
* Brian Beutler gets to the core of the “reform conservatives” dilemma: There’s no way they are going to get Republican unanimity behind their ideas. Result: They might have no choice but to try moving left.
* So what’s going on in the Iowa Senate race? Dems are circulating this video of local news coverage of Facebook posts by GOP Senate nominee Joni Ernst’s husband, in which he calls Hillary Clinton a “lying hag,” and Janet Napolitano a “traitorous skank,” to demonstrate that this high-minded stuff is gaining some traction.
* We spent 10 years training the Iraqi military. And now it’s crumbling in the face of an insurgency, leaving the nation “on the brink of disintegration Thursday as al-Qaeda-inspired fighters swept through northern Iraq toward Baghdad and Kurdish soldiers seized the city of Kirkuk without a fight.”
* Meanwhile, Steven Dennis notes that if President Obama wanted to take military action, he wouldn’t need Congress’ permission. That’s because the Authorization for Use of Military Force from 2002 had no expiration date and was never repealed.
* Hillary Clinton had what will no doubt be described everywhere as a “testy exchange” with NPR host Terry Gross over the timing of her change of heart on gay marriage and whether she waited until it was politically safe to come out in favor. “I think you are being very persistent but you are playing with my words, playing with what is such an important issue,” Clinton said.
* Remember when House Republicans released that bogus report supposedly showing too few people had actually paid their Obamacare premiums, findings that were skewed by the early cut-off on the data? Charles Gaba asks a very good question: Will Republicans make good on their vow to revisit the issue when the data is more up to date? Gaba:
“I will be stunned and amazed if the GOP ever bothers following through with this since they know that they aren’t gonna like the answer: I’m quite confident that at least 90% of the original 8.02 million exchange QHP enrollees have paid their first premiums.”
Not a bad idea for Congressional Dems to pursue.
* According to a new Pew Research Center study on polarization, most conservatives say they’d prefer to live in a rural area or a small town. Over at the American Prospect, I looked at the data and asked, so what’s stopping them?
* And Rick Perry got asked whether he thinks homosexuality can be cured. After saying, “I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m not a doctor,” Perry mused that maybe it’s like alcoholism: “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire to not do that.”
Perhaps he then said silently to himself: “Nailed it!”