June 11th, 2014
01:20 PM ET
5 months ago

Did Cooter bring down Cantor?

(CNN) - One of the most powerful Republicans in Washington lost his seat Tuesday to an upstart political novice named Dave Brat. When Brat heard the news, he said he was “shocked” and he wouldn’t believe it until he saw it for himself.

Cantor spent ten times the amount Brat did in an attempt to retain the seat he has held since 2001.

But maybe it wasn’t the breakout popularity of Brat or the unpopularity of Cantor that led to his defeat. Perhaps it was Cooter from “The Dukes of Hazzard.”


Last week former Rep. Ben Jones, who played Cooter Davenport in the TV series, issued a public appeal to urge Democrats to vote for Brat in Tuesday’s primary.

Cantor challenger, Dave Brat, 'shocked' as results rolled in

“By voting for David Brat in the Seventh District Republican primary, we Democrats, independents, and Libertarians can make a big difference in American politics. It is your right to cast that vote,” Jones wrote in a letter provided to the Huffington Post.

American actor and politician Ben Jones circa 1980.

American actor and politician Ben Jones circa 1980.

In the low-turnout open primary, where Democrats can vote in Republican races, the idea is not so crazy. A little more than 10% of the electorate voted. Brat received 36,000 votes to Cantor’s nearly 29,000.

Jack Trammell is the Democrat who no longer has to face Eric Cantor

The letter continued: “Under Cantor’s Majority Leadership, the Congress has sunk to its lowest public standing in history. Our nation has lost faith in our most important institutions. This is not a laughing matter. It is a national crisis. Eric Cantor should not be rewarded with another term.”

Because Virginia does not require voters to register by party and no exit polling was conducted, there's no way to be sure if there was a Cooter effect.

But Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said Brat also played a role in getting Democrats to vote against Cantor.

“You had Brat operatives going to Democratic Party committees, even on election eve, asking them to go to the polls to get rid of Eric Cantor,” Sabato said on CNN. “It had nothing to do with Dave Brat. There were robocalls to Democrats in that district, telling Democrats come out to the polls.”

The 72-year-old Jones has a history with Cantor. Jones represented Georgia in Congress from 1989 to 1993, but in 2002 ran for Cantor’s seat in Virginia. Cantor easily beat him. In his letter last week, Jones said Cantor ran “a dishonorable campaign” against him.

CNN’s Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this story.


Filed under: 2014 • Eric Cantor
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    "You had Brat operatives going to Democratic Party committees, even on election eve, asking them to go to the polls to get rid of Eric Cantor,”
    ------------------------------
    HAHAHAHA. That's how the game is played. Brat is going to be defeated convincingly in November. But we democrats go what we wanted: CANTOR OUT!!!!

    June 11, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    "You had Brat operatives going to Democratic Party committees, even on election eve, asking them to go to the polls to get rid of Eric Cantor,”

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If that's the case, Trammel will have no problem handing Brat his backside in November.

    June 11, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Malory Archer

    WOW – the reds REALLY DO blame the Dems for EVERYTHING – including their drubbing by another red!

    June 11, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. The right wing have lost their damned minds

    I'm waiting to hear them screaming about voter fraud..

    June 11, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Hart

    "Jones said Cantor ran “a dishonorable campaign” against him". That's a long time to hold a grudge. He might need to seek professional help. Any assistance in getting rid of Cantor is deeply appreciated.

    Cantor is great guy but all politicians have a shelf life from too much time in DC.

    June 11, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Dutch Wrote:

    "You had Brat operatives going to Democratic Party committees, even on election eve, asking them to go to the polls to get rid of Eric Cantor,”

    HAHAHAHA. That's how the game is played. Brat is going to be defeated convincingly in November. But we democrats go what we wanted: CANTOR OUT!!!!
    ---------------------–
    I wonder if anyone had the sense of mind to record those operatives speaking to the Democrats.

    June 11, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. Chris-E...al

    Cantor beat Cantor ! America wants to close the border take a poll on that ?

    June 11, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. Marcus (from...?)

    Rudy NYC – I wonder if anyone had the sense of mind to record those operatives speaking to the Democrats

    Or take a picture, or one of those videos made with phones or unprofessional cameras...
    ANYthing?

    June 11, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Jackson

    Rudy NYC

    Dutch Wrote:

    "You had Brat operatives going to Democratic Party committees, even on election eve, asking them to go to the polls to get rid of Eric Cantor,”

    HAHAHAHA. That's how the game is played. Brat is going to be defeated convincingly in November. But we democrats go what we wanted: CANTOR OUT!!!!
    -------–
    I wonder if anyone had the sense of mind to record those operatives speaking to the Democrats.

    ________________________

    Doesn't matter. It's an open primary, and perfectly legal. Tea Party aligned with Dems to take out Cantor.

    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".

    June 11, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    I wonder if anyone had the sense of mind to record those operatives speaking to the Democrats.
    ----------------------------------------
    I would've loved to be a fly on the wall for that.

    Operative: Hi. I'm calling from the Brat campaign. We know we have no chance in hell of winning in November, but can you vote for Brat to insure that we get Cantor out?
    Voter: Heck yeah!

    June 11, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. tester

    You people are part of the problem....you think its a game.

    June 11, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Marcus (from...?)

    To be fair I still don't know much about Brat, I'm waiting for a report on ABC or NYT or even a foreign outlet like BBC on his points of view about this or that. Maybe I'll go after them myself.
    But I DO KNOW Cantor, and can't feel bad for him!

    June 11, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. X

    This happens frequently in many states. A few years ago in my state of TX, a 'die-hard' republican friend proudly told me he'd voted for the most left wing candidate in the Democratic primary. Not that he supported the candidate's policies–rather, he wanted to ensure the GOP won in the Fall (and that occurred, of course.)

    June 11, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. 1776usa2016

    Cantor hurt this country is so many ways with his obstructionism.

    And when he finally decided maybe a little cooperation wouldn't hurt, it was too late.

    .

    June 11, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Laverne

    Hee, hee, haa, haa! Seriously, I am about to pee my pants!!! I know John Boehner must be somewhere saying "there is a God" cause Eric Cantor has been under-minding him for years now in hopes of taking over as speaker and those dreams were dashed last night. "He who is swift to run towards mischief and evil will soon fall into the snake pit himself" I am looking in my crystal ball and I see some more republicans going right behind him!!! Maybe Obama has a job he can do, like scoop up BO and Sonny's poop!!!

    June 11, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. 1776usa2016

    Primaries should only be "open" to independents.

    .

    June 11, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    If this is true then we Democrats and Independents know what we need to do in 2014.
    MD has elections on Tuesday, June 24th.

    June 11, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Lolo

    I don't care who assisted in getting rid of Cantor the Weasel. I am glad that he is gone. period. Next up Boehner. People now you see that voting really matters. The GOP/TP Klan are hopingit will be a small turn out for voting in November, but they are up for a rude awakening.

    June 11, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Doesn't matter. It's an open primary, and perfectly legal. Tea Party aligned with Dems to take out Cantor.

    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".
    ------------------------
    That's good, keep repeating it. "It's perfectly legal." I find it to be immoral to advocate, not mention actually doing it.

    June 11, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. Silence DoGood

    As a liberal, I am totally thrilled by a hard core Theocracy Corporate friendly arch conservative beating out a sold-out GOP guy. The public needs to see the raw face of conservatism and what it has become. Then vote the Dem to win in the end. Has happened before and will happen now.

    June 11, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. pkrbkr

    Good riddance.

    June 11, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Jackson

    Rudy NYC

    Doesn't matter. It's an open primary, and perfectly legal. Tea Party aligned with Dems to take out Cantor.

    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".
    --------
    That's good, keep repeating it. "It's perfectly legal." I find it to be immoral to advocate, not mention actually doing it.

    _____________________

    Then lobby congress to eliminate open primaries. I assure you, things like this happen on both sides of the aisle.

    June 11, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    Except when you look at the actual data, Brat nailed Cantor in the counties that lean heavily to the GOP...including the very red counties of Hanover and New Kent. The numbers and data just don't support John McLaughlin's excuse for having provided Cantor with grossly inaccurate polling figures indicating he had a 34% lead. He simply didn't. He got crushed by the conservative base that he helped radicalize, who threw him under the bus for supporting any immigration reform, and particularly because he supported a pathway to legalization. After all, VA is still the South.

    June 11, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. dc

    Goodbye, Cantor! One more to go (Boehner) and the House will be a lot cleaner and far more representative of Americans. We don't need a Tea Party. All we need are more people tying themselves to Boehner and McConnell and sealing their own doom. America is sick of the Cantors, Boehners, and McConnells. Not one of those three, and others, earned a penny of their salaries after Obama was elected. Americans are sick and tired of their antics whether or not Obama is a decent president. None of these guys should represent anyone,

    June 11, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  25. rs

    We are still witnessing the GOP civil war rage. I wonder if there will be survivors.

    June 11, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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