House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was upset last night by primary challenger David Brat, who insists he’s not “hard right” but “unflinchingly holds” to a “Republican Creed” that includes “faith in God” as “essential to the moral fiber of the Nation.” (More)
Last night seemed like a good time to take a break from my research on 21st Century Political Nuttitude, so Mrs. Squirrel and I watched Godzilla, the 1998 one with Matthew Broderick, because humans won’t let us into the theater to see the new one. We like that movie because it’s fun to watch humans experience life from a squirrel’s perspective. And since I wanted to take a break, I turned off my Blewberry. Oops.
It seems that while Godzilla was stomping through New York, Virginia Republican primary voters were stomping on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), the chamber’s second-ranking Republican, was badly beaten in a primary contest Tuesday by an obscure professor with tea party backing – a historic electoral surprise that left the GOP in chaos and the House without its heir apparent.
Cantor, who has represented the Richmond suburbs since 2001, lost by 11 percentage points to Dave Brat, an economist at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. It was an operatic fall from power, swift and deep and utterly surprising. As late as Tuesday morning, Cantor had felt so confident of victory that he spent the morning at a Starbucks on Capitol Hill, holding a fundraising meeting with lobbyists while his constituents went to the polls.
By Tuesday night, he had suffered a defeat with few parallels in American history. Historians said that no House leader of Cantor’s rank had ever been defeated in a primary.
This morning at the Washington Post, Paul Kane writes that Rep. Cantor’s loss has thrown Congress into disarray, which Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler should debunk because that implies Congress was in array before yesterday.
Also at the Post, Chris Cillizza summarizes the “seismic political consequences” of Cantor’s loss, and Matea Gold explains how national Tea Party leaders are claiming credit for a victory in which they played no role. The aptly-named Brat was backed by local Tea Party groups, but the national groups wrote off that race. Thus, Brat’s victory prompted a whole slew of “Holy Crap!” tweets. Clearly, many people need to learn the proper spelling of “wholly.”
Still at the Post, Philip Bump offers a brief biography of Brat, who as an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College has written articles with titles like “Economic Growth and Human Capital Accumulation: The Rise and Fall of the Protestant Ethic?” and “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.”
Brat’s background should make him especially appealing to conservative organizations. He chairs the department of economics and business at Randolph-Macon College and heads its BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism program. The funding for the program came from John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T (a financial-services company) who now heads the Cato Institute. The two share an affinity for Ayn Rand: Allison is a major supporter of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Brat co-authored a paper titled “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” Brat says that while he isn’t a Randian, he has been influenced by Atlas Shrugged and appreciates Rand’s case for human freedom and free markets.
Brat also insists “there’s nothing hard right or far right about anything” in his background. Except for his “Republican Creed,” which includes:
We Believe… That faith in God, as recognized by our Founding Fathers is essential to the moral fiber of the Nation.
Which may explain why last night he told Fox News: “God acted through people on my behalf.”
Majorities of all religious groups, with the exception of white evangelical Protestants, support a path to citizenship, including roughly 6-in-10 white mainline Protestants (58%), minority Protestants (62%) and Catholics (63%), and more than two-thirds (68%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans.
In contrast, trust in Fox News as an accurate news source is the most powerful independent predictor of opposition to a path to citizenship. Identifying as Republican and being a born-again Christian are also significant predictors of opposition to immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.
That Brookings and Public Religion Research Institute study’s authors added:
It is not possible from this data to offer a precise solution to the chicken-and-egg question – whether the more important fact is that those with very conservative views are already attracted to Fox or whether Fox turns its viewers into conservatives. What is clear is that conservative are drawn to Fox, and that Fox may, in turn, reinforce and perhaps harden conservative views.
When asked if he is a tea partier, Brat said, “I just say what I say – I’m running on the Republican principles, the creed. I’ve given stump speech after stump speech on those six principles that I believe in and I have huge grassroots and tea party support, and I owe those people the election. I owe Republicans, tea party, grassroots — they all came together and helped me win tonight. Utter thanks, but the press is trying to do this sound bite stuff and put you in a little hole, and peg you in one way or the other.”
“Eric Cantor has long been the face of House Republicans’ extreme policies, debilitating dysfunction and manufactured crises. Tonight is a major victory for the Tea Party as they yet again pull the Republican Party further to the radical right,” she said in a statement.
The California Democrat added, “As far as the midterms elections are concerned, it’s a whole new ballgame.”
Democrats have tended to fare better in competitive races when tea party candidates oust the establishment’s pick, notably gaining wins in Indiana and Missouri in 2012 that helped Democrats maintain Senate control.
Of course, the polls all say Democrats have no chance to retake the U.S. House this year. Then again, the polls all said Brat had no chance to defeat Cantor.
So that’s what happens when you watch Godzilla.
Good day and good nuts