, WASHINGTON, Jun 11 – In a stunning defeat, number-two House Republican Eric Cantor was ousted Tuesday by a more conservative primary challenger who delivered a body blow to the Republican establishment.
Majority Leader Cantor, a powerful party insider who was widely seen as a future speaker of the House, lost his Richmond, Virginia seat to Tea Party-backed insurgent David Brat, who had been thought such a longshot he barely received media airtime.
“I’m running 100 percent on just mainstream Republican issues. The Republicans need to do a better job of following these, and then we’ll get the country out of the ditch,” Brat said on Fox TV.
Brat was outspent on the campaign by Cantor – by more than 25 to one.
Yet the veteran Cantor became widely seen in his district as focusing on national Republican positioning. Failing to grasp the scope of the threat, he ignored his own re-election primary race – until it was too late.
“The people are just ready for some major changes in this country,” Brat told Fox. “I attribute it to God,” he said of his upset. “I’m a believer and so I’m humbled God gave us this win. Just an unbelievable miracle.”