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Virginia Politics
Posted at 03:39 PM ET, 11/10/2011

Is Eric Cantor’s influence in his home county waning?

What happened to the Cantor political machine?

In one of Tuesday’s most surprising election results, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R) chosen candidate for prosecutor in his home county of Henrico lost despite Cantor’s backing, money and political advisers.

Shannon Taylor, a Democrat who came into the race late and was considered a longshot candidate, defeated Del. Bill Janis, a Republican turned independent who had lined up support from Virginia’s top Republicans, including Cantor.

Needless to say, Democrats who associate Cantor with walking out of debt-ceiling talks with Vice President Biden, tying disaster aid to spending cuts and Mr. No when it comes to new taxes, were giddy.

“Eric Cantor, here's your new commonwealth's attorney,” Sen. Don McEachin (D-Henrico) said Tuesday at Taylor’s victory party..

Sure, Cantor’s suburban Richmond county is becoming a bit more moderate area (A longtime Republican member of the Board of Supervisors lost too). But are the election results more than that?

Cantor’s endorsement of Janis — and $35,000 cash led to his removal from his local GOP committee (along with every other Republican who supported Janis including Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General ) and to some angry activists. Party officials said they were removed for supporting a non-Republican candidate.

Janis, who had been serving as the Republican whip in the House of Delegates, announced in August that he would not seek reelection.

He was considered a shoo-in for commonwealth’s attorney job after joining the race to take on the embattled Republican candidate for commonwealth’s attorney in Henrico County, Matthew Geary, who party leaders abandoned after he admitted to an extramarital affair.

Gary C. Byler, a longtime Republican activist from Virginia Beach who leads the 2nd District congressional committee, said Republican activists were none too pleased with the endorsements of a non-Republican.

“I think the way the Janis candidacy was handled was disappointing,’’ he said. ”Party rules were treated in such a cavalier fashion.”

By  |  03:39 PM ET, 11/10/2011

 
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