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Live Updates: The Cantor Upset

June 11, 2014

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in a Virginia primary Tuesday by an obscure professor with tea party backing has left the GOP in chaos and the House without its heir apparent. Check here for updates as Washington reacts to the unprecedented upset.

  • Sean Sullivan
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Conservative blogger Erick Erickson doesn’t want to see House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) become the next majority leader. He’d rather have Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) do it.

With McCarthy, Erickson writes on, “House leaders will be signaling they’ve learned nothing from Cantor’s defeat. Jeb Hensarling is a better choice and they should reconsider.”

McCarthy, he continues, “is not very conservative and, for all of Cantor’s faults, lacks Cantor’s intelligence on a number of issues. Lest we forget, McCarthy had several high profile screw ups as Whip and has not really seemed to ever improve over time.”

  • Tom Hamburger
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Mark Levin, one of two conservative talk radio hosts who fought for David Brat in his insurgent campaign against Majority Leader Eric Cantor, began another campaign of sorts Wednesday evening, this time against Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican considered likely to replace Cantor as the party’s Majority Leader.

“Apparently the leadership isn’t getting the message,” said Levin, who along with talk show how Laura Ingraham, was a notable backer of Brat’s campaign. “We want a constitutional conservative in the leadership, not just the next guy in line. . . ,” he said, referring to reports that McCarthy, now the number three in leadership, was considered likely to replace Cantor in the majority leader post. “They all sound alike, they look alike almost,” Levin said referring to the GOP House leadership team. “I don’t think they have learned a damned thing.”

Just before making his argument Wednesday evening, Levin interviewed Brat on his syndicated “The Mark Levin Show.” Brat described his come-from-behind campaign — and went out of his way to thank Levin for his early support. Levin called Brat “smarter than Boehner and McCarthy combined.”

He also dubbed the two leaders “the same,” as Cantor. “They are the same crony capitalists, the same Chamber of Commerce, the same K Street. The same Mr. Amnesty,” he said.

  • Sean Sullivan
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David Brat told conservative radio host and backer Mark Levin that Cantor was routinely spreading false information about him during the campaign, which he argued the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper fell short of covering fairly.

“Eric was sending out untruths” by the day, Brat told Levin on his radio program, also hitting the paper’s treatment of him.

“The Richmond Times-Dispatch came out bashing me after I won. They are still yearning for Eric Cantor,” he said.

Brat said Cantor held inconsistent positions on immigration and “amnesty just jumped straight up” in the campaign.

  • Robert Costa
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At dusk, as final round of votes went on in House, a hunched man with salt and pepper hair took a tour group around the Capitol, telling stories about famous House members, unnoticed as aides walked by. It was former speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), guiding a family around.

“Eric had a lot of promise and some people pinned their hopes to him,” he said, pausing outside the office he once occupied. “But things change in this business. One day you’re at the top and the next you’re saying goodbye to your staff.”

“Things go on,” he added, saying the House GOP would recover. “It’s time for him to go back to Richmond, reflect, and be happy.”

  • Sean Sullivan
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Roll Call:

Current and former staffers for soon-to-step-down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor flooded into the Tune Inn Wednesday for a semi-private shindig featuring some heartfelt sobs, a few laughs and lots of Jameson.

The aides assembled at the Capitol Hill watering hole shortly before the Virginia Republican took to TV to announce that he would be relinquishing his leadership post, but not his seat, as of July 31. Cantor suffered a bruising defeat at the hands of tea party candidate Dave Brat on Tuesday night.

Once the news conference was over, the commiserators wiped away their tears and immediately opened their wallets — ponying up $500 and $1,000 contributions apiece in order to cover the $6,500 required to have the bar to themselves from 6 p.m. ’til closing.

  • Robert Costa
  • ·

According to two top House Republicans close to him, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told his inner circle privately today that he plans to stay on and run for speaker, that he has decided that it’s the best decision for the party in a time of unrest.

Boehner won’t formally announce this anytime soon, but he is saying it to friends to reassure them that he is not eyeing the door.

  • Robert Costa
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NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said the national party was ready to help David Brat but have had trouble reaching him.

Multiple times Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Walden texted and called Brat to say congratulations and offer assistance, but Brat’s voicemail was full and by 6 p.m. Wednesday, they had not yet spoken.

Walden said the GOP only had Brat’s cell as a point of contact but expected to connect with him soon over phone and in Washington.

  • Robert Costa
  • ·
U.S. Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) talks to reporters as he arrives for a meeting with House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (not pictured) and the House Republican caucus at the U.S. Capitol in Washington June 11, 2014. The toppling of Cantor, the number two Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, left his political party in chaos on Wednesday, as financial markets worried the shakeup might renew messy budget fights that in the past have caused government shutdowns and near credit defaults. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Promising to be a hard-charging salesman for the Republican Party and a voice for House conservatives who have clashed with the current leadership, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas campaigned Wednesday afternoon to be the next House majority leader, holding several private meetings and nearly sprinting through the Capitol to shake hands with his colleagues.

A confident Sessions predicted in an interview that he would beat the race’s presumed frontrunner, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, arguing that as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee during the tea party wave of 2010, he won as many allies as McCarthy, and that as the current chairman of the Rules Committee, he is ready to manage the House floor.

“I’ll be a majority leader who will be clear-headed about what we’re going to try to accomplish, putting more focus on what we’re trying to sell,” Sessions said, adding that he has a “strong and open” relationship with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). “I know how to win, I did it at the NRCC, and I will help us win majorities.”

(Read the complete story)

  • Sean Sullivan
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This map from The Post’s graphics team explains why:


  • Sarah Dunton
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Watch House Majority Leader Eric Cantor formally announce his resignation.  Cantor steps down on July 31.

Cantor backs McCarthy as new majority leader

Transcript of Cantor’s comments 

  • Sarah Dunton
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With a Republican leadership  re-shuffle imminent, PostTV asked some of the party’s most conservative members what qualities they’d like to see among the top ranks.

Read the transcript of Cantor’s news conference

VIDEO: Democrats: Cantor’s loss shouldn’t stop immigration reform

  • Sean Sullivan
  • ·
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, after a House Republican caucus meeting. Repudiated at the polls, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor intends to resign his leadership post at the end of next month, officials said Wednesday, clearing the way for a potentially disruptive Republican shake-up just before midterm elections with control of Congress at stake.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

1. He took the high road. Cantor didn’t blame his staff, criticize his opponent or sound a bitter note. Instead, he thanked supporters, aides and other people he has worked with over the years.

2. No Monday (Wednesday?) morning quarterbacking. “I’ll leave the political analysis to ya’ll,” said Cantor when asked about why he lost. He said his team did everything it could, he rejected the notion he was too absent from his district and argued he never changed on immigration. “I just came up short,” he said.

3. He’d back McCarthy. Now that he is on his way out, Cantor doesn’t have much clout. But for what it’s worth, he’d back Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) should he run to succeed him.

4. The future is a mystery. “I will be looking at how I can best serve,” he said. Sure sounds like someone who isn’t done in politics just yet…

  • Matt DeLong
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  • Sean Sullivan
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Cantor said at an afternoon news conference that he would back House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) if he decides to try to succeed him as majority leader.

McCarthy would make an “outstanding majority leader,” Cantor said.

  • Sean Sullivan
  • ·

Eric Cantor started his afternoon news conference on a notably optimistic note by thanking staff, supporters and his Virginia district.

“People often lament what is wrong with this town,” he said. “I want to remind you about what’s right.”

The Republican also sounded a hopeful note about his own future, as well as the House GOP agenda.

“While I may have suffered a personal setback last night, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of this country,” said Cantor.

  • Paul Kane
  • ·

Republican leaders on Wednesday afternoon told their rank-and-file members the vote to succeed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the majority whip’s job would be held on June 19, an eight-day sprint to succeed the Virginian.

  • Ed O'Keefe
  • ·

House Speaker John A. Boehner’s remarks about Eric Cantor during a huddle of Republican leaders at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon, according to a person in the room:

“ This is a speech I never expected to give.  I want to start by offering a heartfelt thanks to Eric and his staff for their service to our conference, our institution and our country.

We’ve been through a lot together.

When I was elected majority leader eight and a half years ago, Eric was there, as the chief deputy whip.  He’s always been there.

There’s no one who works harder, or puts more thought, into advancing our principles and the solutions we want to enact for the American people.

Winston Churchill once famously said: ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’

As one who suffered a tough defeat myself in 1998, I can tell you there’s plenty of wisdom in that statement.

Eric, we salute you, and we thank you, and your amazing staff as well.

We’re losing a leader, but you’ll never stop being our colleague and our friend.

This is the time for unity; the time for focus – focus on the thing we all know to be true: the failure of Barack Obama’s policies and our obligation to show the American people we offer them not just a viable alternative, but a better future.”

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