Brat Defeats Cantor—Patriotic Immigration Reform’s Greatest Victory To Date
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Cantor Brat

The New York Times described economics professor David Brat’s primary victory over Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor as “one of the most stunning primary election upsets in congressional history.” Eric Cantor Defeated by David Brat, Tea Party Challenger, in Primary Upset, By Jonathan Martin June 10, 2014

It’s also the greatest electoral victory to date for the patriotic immigration reform movement.

Having worked in Republican immigration politics for many years, I’ve seen a very sad and familiar pattern in challenges to pro- Amnesty politicians. It goes like this:

1)    Establishment candidate supports amnesty

2)    Challenger runs anti-amnesty campaign

3)    Establishment candidate pretends to oppose amnesty and outspends challenger by many orders of magnitude

4)    Establishment candidate fools voters and wins

5)    Chattering classes use election as proof that voters support amnesty

6)    Establishment candidate goes back to supporting amnesty

The most blatant example: Senator John McCain suddenly championed SB 1070 and ending birthright citizenship for a few months when JD Hayworth challenged him 2010. Then he proceeded to become one the Gang of Eight. But this has happened many times: Jeff Flake in 2012, Lindsay Graham in 2008 (and again today, but we’ll leave that for another time), Chris Cannon in 2004 and 2006.

For a while, it looked like Eric Cantor was on the same path. As I wrote in my previous column, Cantor has been quietly (and sometimes vocally) supporting Amnesty for some time. Yet, faced with Brat’s challenge, Cantor began sending out campaign mailers stating “Conservative Republican Eric Cantor Is Stopping the Obama Reid Plan to Give Illegal Aliens Amnesty.”

Money is what makes this campaign both stunning and such a win for patriotic immigration reform. Cantor raised over five million dollars to David Brat’s $200,000. Brat responded with a populist campaign calling Cantor a tool of the cheap labor and business lobby. He showed Cantor with Mark Zuckerberg, with the powerful message:

There are 20 million Americans who can't find a full time job. But Eric Cantor wants to give corporations another 20 million foreign workers to hire instead. Eric Cantor doesn't represent you.
Brat is not the first primary challenger to defeat a pro-amnesty incumbent. Jason Chaffetz defeated Chris Cannon in 2008. Although Cannon was a solid conservative on all issues other than immigration and Chaffetz made opposition to amnesty to main focal point of his campaign, the MSM portrayed the defeat as rooted in general dissatisfaction with Washington.

Chaffetz aided this perception by focusing on how he won by promoting conservative principles generally, rather than immigration after his victory. Now Chaffetz supports Amnesty.

However, I would be shocked if Brat became another Chaffetz. He shows a real passion and understanding of the importance of the issue that goes far beyond the usual clichés of “secure the border” and “stop Amnesty” you hear from your average conservative shyster. And although Brat focused on Amnesty, he has expressed support for ending birthright citizenship, ending chain migration and reducing overall legal immigration levels.

I expected the MSM to make similar noises about how the election was just about the Tea Party and dissatisfaction with Washington. However, at least thus far, most news reports acknowledge that Brat made immigration a focus of his campaign and that his victory could kill Amnesty.

For example, the New York Times acknowledged that Brat “repeatedly [criticized Cantor] for being soft on immigration” POLITICO ran the blunt headline; Eric Cantor loss kills immigration reform.

The Obama Administration is already in full damage-control mode, with advisor Dan Pfeifer tweeting

But, while Lindsey Graham’s victory in the South Carolina primary is disappointing, no one honestly believes that his championing of Amnesty helped him win. Nor does anyone think that had Cantor been more emphatically in favor of Amnesty he would have defeated Brat.

Though the White House’s spin is expected, Red State’s Eric Erickson’s analysis is more disappointing. He claims that “The media will play up Cantor’s loss by claiming it was about immigration” as opposed to the real reason which was that Cantor antagonized conservatives, and didn’t like the Tea Party. He then goes on and uses the trite tea party complaints about congressional staffers, the GOP “establishment”, and K-Street.[ Why Eric Cantor Lost, June 10, 2014]

Erickson has it backwards.

While Brat portrayed himself as a Tea Partier, and toed the conservative line on most issues, he was able to attract voters because, the amnesty is the ultimate crony Establishment policy: not earmarks or a farm subsidies.

Brat took the usual hollow tea party rhetoric and made it effective by using it against immigration. According to Brat:

Cantor continues to work with multinational corporations to boost the inflow of low-wage guest workers to reduce Virginians' wages and employment opportunities. On this and many other issues - like spending, debt and insider trading — Cantor puts corporations ahead of his constituents and free markets.
Yes, Brat said “free markets,” but this is not the type of rhetoric you normally hear from conservatives.

The battle is not over. As Obamaites gloat, South Carolina voters reelected Lindsey Graham, who has a much worse and consistent record on amnesty than Cantor today. Many of Cantor’s proposed replacements as House Majority Leader, like Paul Ryan, are also worse than him.

The problem is deeper than Eric Cantor. The problem is the cheap labor and Hispandering ideology/greed that dominates the Republican Party. Eric Cantor was one of many symptoms of this disease.

However, David Brat showed us the cure: a populist patriotic, "National Conservative"  campaign focused on putting the American worker ahead of corporate interests.

“Washington Watcher” [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway



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