The Washington Post

Outgoing Rep. Eric Cantor was never a great vote-counter


Outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor talks about his defeat at a news conference June 11. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Outgoing House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor’s Tuesday primary defeat at the hands of neophyte pol and Randolph Macon College Prof. Dave Brat has been called “stunning,” “shocking,” “incredible” and so on.

And it seems Cantor’s camp was quite confident going into election day, having outspent Tea Party favorite Dave Brat by more than $5 million to Brat’s $120,000.

But in terms of vote-counting, we recall Cantor’s firm predictions back in 2010  when he was Republican Whip that there was no way House Democrats had the votes to pass Obamacare.

In a memo released to the media Feb. 24 of that year, Cantor said, “with all due respect to my vote-counting counterpart on the Democratic side,” (South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn) “I think he’s wrong.”

“Americans have overwhelmingly and repeatedly asked Democrats to shelve their take-over and start again,” he added. “We believe that fact will continue to weigh heavy on House Democrats, and as a result,” he wrote in italics and bold face, “Speaker Pelosi will not be able to muster the votes needed to pass a Senate reconciliation bill in the House.

Cantor predicted that the Dems might get as few as 203 votes, 14 shy of the 217 they then needed.

A month later, House Democrats voted 219-212 to pass the bill.

Cantor's 2010 Obamacare memo

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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