One fun statistic from the Eric Cantor upset is that he spent nearly as much at D.C.-based steakhouses as his novice opponent spent on his entire campaign. Certainly, Cantor’s friends had their fair share of red meat on his dime, but wining and dining donors over a juicy steak in one of the premium, clubby restaurants is pretty standard fare for Washington.
Take BLT Steakhouse, where a petite filet costs $42, located a block from K Street and a stone’s throw from the White House. It’s a popular choice for politicians hosting top-dollar fundraisers. It’s more frequented by Republicans, like Cantor, but it’s been known to host a Democrat or two. Generally, these types of dinners are common across the capital, and the fact that Cantor dined out on fancy meals with deep-pocketed pals is not on its face why he lost. But it is part of the larger problem that he may have been more interested in keeping the Republican majority than about winning over his Virginia constituents.
Just this campaign cycle, 26 political committees (that file electronically, so that doesn’t include most Senate campaigns) have hosted events at, or had a meal catered by, BLT. In addition to those shown below, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) spent a few hundred dollars there, as did the NRSC.
To be sure, Cantor, through both his campaign and leadership PACs, is the restaurant’s best customer – it comes up among his top 10 expenditure recipients for his Every Republican Is Crucial leadership committee. (Knowing what we know now, perhaps Cantor’s PAC should have stood for: Eric Really Is Conservative?)
This graph illustrates just how much BLT will be missing Cantor: