House Majority Leader Eric Cantor canceled a scheduled speech he was to give Wednesday morning before the National Association of Manufacturers, as policymakers scramble to sort through what his stunning political loss means for the financial sector.
Cantor was expected to discuss a host of conservative policy initiatives at NAM's annual summit, but now he will be replaced by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), according to a source familiar with the matter. No explanation was given by the source.
Cantor lost in a primary election Tuesday night to Tea Party challenger David Brat, an economics professor. His last minute speech cancellation signals a challenge establishment Republican policymakers face in rallying congressional support among Tea Partiers and Democrats on a host of financial services.
NAM has been actively engaged on a number of financial issues and Cantor served as a key congressional ally.
From reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, bipartisan immigration reform, to eliminating taxpayer-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Cantor was able to flex his political muscle in part because many viewed him as a potential successor to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
All of that's out the window now.
Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said that Cantor's Speakership ambitions could have made him a bigger target for the Tea Party.
"The fact that Cantor was one step from the Speaker’s gavel helped put the target more squarely on his back," O'Connell said. "This is upset of the 2014 primary season and an enormous victory for the conservative grassroots. It will certainly serve as a 'come to Jesus' moment for some folks in the GOP with respect to immigration reform."
Still, much of the political world was trying to figure out what Cantor's loss means for policy.