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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Call me old-fashioned, but Virginia's primary system isn't right

Last Tuesday’s primary in Virginia wasn’t expected to be any big thing. Except the Republican Party was blindsided by the toppling of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Cantor’s unexpected loss came at the hands of Tea Party-backed college professor David Brat. Brat campaigned only as a conservative, and the stunning loss was the first for establishment Republicans, who have been handily beating Tea Party-backed opponents this primary season.

Cantor ended up losing the race 56 percent to 44 percent. It was the first time a majority leader had lost a primary, and interrupted the 51-year-old’s rising political career for now.

Brat raised $300,000, which was nothing compared with Cantor’s $5.4 million campaign war chest. So how did Brat pull off this unbelievable win when pollsters had him down 62 percent to 28 percent just days before the primary?

Brat attacked Cantor on two fronts — immigration reform, and claiming that the majority leader lost touch with his conservative principles. Brat claimed that Cantor and other top congressional Republicans put aside their “free-market principles” when they backed the 2008 Wall Street bailout.

But the real issue on which Brat hammered Cantor was immigration reform. Brat argued that the majority leader’s support for small measures allowing some type of legal status for children of undocumented immigrants was “amnesty.”

Virginia isn’t a border state, and you would have thought that immigration wasn’t as much of a hot-button issue there as it is in Texas or Arizona. While the liberal media would want you to believe that immigration reform was the reason for Cantor’s loss, I’m not convinced that it or any other issue caused his defeat.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Cantor did lose touch with Virginia’s voters while campaigning around the country for the Republican Party. While on the road, he took for granted his own constituents. But if you examine the poll numbers, the real reason Cantor lost the election to a no-name conservative was the Democrats.

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