More Than Immigration Reform Defeated Cantor

By week’s end, a colorful cornucopia of pundits, strategists and consummate insiders were all still struggling to get their heads around it: how did an invincible commander of the House Republican elite get smacked down by a little-known college economics professor with virtually little money in the bank?

Beyond news of meltdown in Iraq, that pretty much summed up the conversation in Washington, a debate of many twists and turns that’s already bleeding into the new week. Even as tea party insurgent David Brat became the new show stopper hitting the political stage, all the focus was on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and what this meant for the future of the Republican Party.

No one on the Republican side of things saw this coming, although close observers like Republican strategist and CivicForumPAC founder Ford O’Connell describe signs on the ground in the Richmond suburb that alluded to voter issues with Cantor. “It wasn’t just the tea party,” said O’Connell. “And, frankly, I hate that term. It’s a lazy analysis. And, it wasn’t just immigration reform.” O’Connell describes a situation in which Cantor’s team was more than likely asleep at the campaign wheel and voters largely disenchanted with business as usual in Washington. In his book “Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery,” O’Connell puts forth a number of strategies for nervous establishment Republicans seeking to retake their party.

O’Connell, and many other observers, won’t settle for the popular narrative that perceived flip-flopping on immigration reform legislation finally nailed Cantor’s political coffin. Some argue that there’s a larger problem of a jaded American electorate – tea party or not – that’s sour on everything unfolding in Washington.

Read more from Charles D. Ellison at The Philadelphia Tribune

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Analysis & Political Strategy