Skip to comments.How Big Money Failed to Rescue Eric Cantor
Posted on 06/11/2014 2:43:38 AM PDT by nickcarraway
Big money couldnt save Eric Cantor.
The darling of big Wall Street donors, the K Street business types and the Republican establishment went down in flames Tuesday, all the while crushing his no-name opponent with a 26-to-1 cash advantage in the money race.
Cantor, the House majority leader, raised nearly $5.5 million during the cycle, bolstered by investments from the American Chemistry Council, the American College of Radiology, the National Rifle Association, and the National Association of Realtors.
He lost to Dave Brat, a college professor with a $200,000 shoestring budget.
The result should be a wakeup call that with a fickle Republican primary electorate in an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington mood, no fundraising advantage can guarantee victory. Brats win is all the more stunning because like-minded outside groups didnt buy TV ads, focusing on other prizes like GOP Senate primaries in Kentucky and Mississippi.
Cantor never lacked for cash, with a donor roll that read like a whos who of Beltway power players. Once seen as a top contender for House speaker, he had the support of 377 political action committees representing almost every major corporate and special interest from all sectors of the economy, including airlines, telecom, energy, food, and manufacturing groups.
This should send shockwaves through the establishment. They can have all the millions of dollars that the Chamber of Commerce can pump in, said L. Brent Bozell, a conservative activist and president of the conservative groups ForAmerica and Media Research Center.
Bozell and other conservative leaders like David Bossie of Citizens United and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots were all gathered at a Tuesday dinner at Bozells Virginia home when the news broke. It is not less than shocking even for all of the top professionals that are sitting at this table for dinner, Bossie told POLITICO. We are all in awe of what Dave Brat was able to pull off.
The decision to invest tea party money, energy and resources elsewhere primarily in Chris McDaniels Mississippi Senate bid and Matt Bevins Kentucky race was not without some dissent. Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation wrote a little-noticed op-ed in the Washington Times in March pleading with fellow conservatives to make a serious investment in the Cantor-Brat primary race.
I tried to get a number of tea party groups to endorse him and put money in the race, but I just dont think they thought Dave Brat could do what he did. I live in the district, so I knew what was going on, Phillips said Tuesday.
The funny thing is Ive gotten a lot of phone calls and texts from those groups congratulating me, he added. But I think it sends a more powerful message that he won without the influence of outside money. (Also on POLITICO: The GOP leadership scramble)
Instead, Brat ran a shoestring campaign helmed by a 23-year old campaign manager who graduated from college in 2013.
The Brat campaign had just two paid staffers, according to its last campaign finance report. Cantor, meanwhile, had 23 paid staff in the same time period, as well as several consulting firms. Brat spent $75,000 in April and May. Cantor spent just over $1 million.
Instead, Brats victory was driven by conservative talk radio and the grassroots opposition to immigration reform that was the talk of both conservative and mainstream media.
Every newscast was talking about his support for immigration, said Scottie Nell Hughes of the Tea Party News Network about Cantor. Dollars cant buy an advertisement like that.
His opponent, Brat, never got a single PAC donation over the course of the race, according to FEC records.
Cantors top five campaign contributors were Blackstone Group, Scoggin Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, Altria Group and Charmer Sunbelt Group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which takes into account both political action committee donations and employee contributions. The Chemistry Council a major lobbying organization representing chemical interests invested more than $300,000, or more than Brat raised the entire cycle, behind Cantor in the final weeks of the race. As of the end of May, Cantor was sitting on a war chest of about $1.5 million reserved for either the general election, Republican Party building in 2014 or a future campaign. Yet Cantor allies failed to get any inkling that the majority leader might be facing a contested race. The campaigns internal polling showed Cantor up by more than 30 points a breezy victory that didnt require their help.
Cantor allies in the business community and on K Street said that the sense was the majority leader was taking his race seriously especially after Cantors choice for Henrico County GOP chair was defeated by tea party forces in May. GOP downtowners say that the majority leader seemed to be investing the resources he needed to win and that it was total shock that his campaign fell short Tuesday night
Washington was asleep at the wheel. Why waste your money for or against someone when everyone thought Cantor was going to win anyway? said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. If Cantor had indicated to outside groups that the majority leader was in trouble, it would have likely sparked a spending war in the district.
His defeat is also raising concerns about potential impact on fundraising for House Republicans overall. Cantor, a prolific fundraiser, spent a considerable amount of time traveling the country to raise money on behalf of the party.
But in the age of outside money, he could be even more useful after he leaves Congress. Cantor is already affiliated with the YG Network, a politically-active nonprofit that also has a super PAC arm.
He could be much more powerful as a fundraiser on the outside because he could start or assume control of a super PAC, Bonjean said. Hed be very helpful and raise millions more than he could as majority leader.
What was poor little Eric to do? Buy everybody (voters for him, anyway) an iPhone? Give them a Section 8 voucher? Throw in an EBT card and pump it up with TANF, SNAP and the like? Too bad he couldn’t get them more EITC (that money was distributed in January/February so voter memory was as gone as the cash). What was he to do?
No wait. That’s what the Democrats did, and do. All he had was his lies about amnesty or whatever equivocation they’re making about it.
It was an open primary. I’m betting Repubs simply didn’t go to the polls....but Dems did. And that’s what you call a plan.
...”It was an open primary. Im betting Repubs simply didnt go to the polls....but Dems did. And thats what you call a plan”...
This could turn out to be an earthquake anyway because this is about open borders more than anything else. We are seeing children being used by this government in an attempted revolution for America. That is what it is and people are very upset by the inhumanity of what is going on. Anyone who loves children is disgusted by the use of them by Washington D.C. for the sake of transforming American into a communist state. It is the lowest of the low..Children as a shield and an excuse for the few powerful elites who want this revolution. This election will give hope out here to people who have seen what is going on throughout all of the scandals hitting us all at once over the past 2 years, all a part of the hate America plan being put into action. Washington is lawless and we need people in office who will forget about the parties and the lust for money who will care about the future for everyone.
I guess it’s time for the GOPe to decide who they support. The winning Republican who the people chose, or a Democrat.
I always thought Cantor was creepy and slimy, but the way he ran ads trying to accuse his more conservative challenger of being a liberal and to position his pro-amnesty self as anti-amnesty was beyond despicable.
That he was the second most senior Republican in the country, with the backing of all those GOPe groups, and he still did that shows just how morally bankrupt the GOPe is.
Another establishment brainwashed guy,Cantor had all the money he needed and got swamped by a guy who had none,then this guy’s only concern is more money,nothing on how message in a really enraged atmosphere trumps the good old boys
Once again, the NRA chose the boner!
According to comments on Twitchy Cantor spent more on steak houses than Brat's total expenses current to May 21 report.
Jenny Beth Martin who, according to Laura Ingraham declined to pick up the phone when Dave Brat called, bestired herself between the main course and dessert to call left-leaning Politico to spin like hell to cover her ass. She is the bankrupt who has been lining her pockets by double dipping and paying almost nothing to worthy conservative candidates.
Phillips, whose skirts appear to be clean, seems to have got it right:
"I think it sends a more powerful message that he (Brat)won without the influence of outside money.
Hey establishment politicos,
As a Tea Party supporter,
How do ya like me NOW?
Cause if you are a RINO or tax and spend baboso,
we’re coming for your sorry asses next.
“tea party dead?
Cantor’s campaign is saying that this is not the case.
It was an open primary. Im betting Repubs simply didnt go to the polls....but Dems did. And thats what you call a plan.
The Democrat cross vote was insignificant in the Cantor primary.
People are pissed off about what our leaders are doing in Washington.
The business whores will give their money to Democrats now. They have no principles except bribing winning candidates so they get favorable treatment from the Goliath Government. Any GOP challenger who doesn’t tar his Democrat business-backed opponent with the “big money” brush isn’t going to win.
“The business whores will give their money to Democrats now.”
Business may very well ‘read the tea leaves’ and join the Tea Party.
Brat said “Dollars don’t vote, people do.”
He’s right. All the money in the world isn’t going to help you if voters are dead set against what you stand for.
When libs start screeching about big money in politics, just tell them big money didn’t help Cantor one smidgen.
People have absolutely HAD IT with double talking and double dealing ‘politicians’ who go to Washington and pretend they forgot HOW they got there!
Good. There will now be a guy in there who owes nothing to nobody but the people who vote in the primary.
I’m not convinced of Brat’s conservatism, and do not trust Catholic candidates.
I know it took only 35,000 votes to win, so Cantor's real problem was low turnout. He is a nice man, handsome, smart, and well spoken. His support probably went to sleep, but I just didn't think that Republican voters 'just wouldn't show up' without some strong disaffection for both candidates (I have never missed an election). Nevertheless, although Brat too is a nice man, smart, and well spoken, I just don't see in him the kind of leadership that would get people to crawl over broken glass to vote for him. So his people probably took Morton Blackwell's teachings to heart and ran a flawless ground game.
Even so, the margin was so big and the media jumped on it so hard, I'm smelling something. Not to disparage Brat in any way, but the tinfoil hatted paranoid in me smells a Diebold victory. This district is a pretty safe seat, so one would legitimately wonder why anybody would bother, other than to gin up a news story about 'the eeevil TEA Party' to help motivate turnout in November while knocking off the House majority leader. It would fit how they think. I hope I'm wrong, but that is how little faith I have in our election systems any more.
Well, I REMAIN convinced that Eric Cantor was a Republican Establishment traitor to conservatism and to our sovereignty.
I haven't heard that expression since 1960!
Jenny Beth Martin does not speak for the Tea Party. Our votes do the talking.
The Washington Post thinks money’s all that matters in pollitics. Guess this made them out to be the fools we know them to be...
It was an open primary but Brat had something the amnesty loving GOPe can’t buy, on the ground Get Out The Vote. It takes a lot of dedicated people going door to door to drag voters to polls in off year elections. Hard for the GOPe to find amnesty lovers willing to go door to door for them.
There are plenty of people who see the invasion and will do anything to defend this country and put an end to the invading hordes.