House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took heat in his own backyard Wednesday from both sides of the immigration debate, trying to fend off a primary challenge from his right flank even as he faces scorching pressure from immigrant rights advocates to lead Republicans in passing legislation.
The pressure from both sides makes Mr. Cantor a microcosm of the dilemma Republicans face nationally.
Minutes after primary challenger Dave Brat held a press conference at the Virginia Capitol accusing Mr. Cantor of being “the number one cheerleader in Congress for amnesty,” immigration activists were rallying inside the building, demanding that the No. 2 House Republican bring a legalization bill to the House floor for a vote this year.
Trying to push back, Mr. Cantor’s campaign sent out a mailer this week arguing he’s been the chief obstacle to amnesty.
GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said that taking heat from both sides is the price Mr. Cantor is paying for having good intentions and trying to step out on the issue.
“Passing the Senate’s bill is not an option for Cantor or House Republicans,” he said, predicting the House would become more open to dealing with the issue if Republicans take back control of the U.S. Senate in the fall midterm elections.