June 15th, 2014
10:13 AM ET
9 years ago

Cantor reflects on primary loss, says 'of course' he'll vote for Brat in November

(CNN) - Defeated at the polls in a major primary upset, Rep. Eric Cantor said he'll vote for the man who beat him, come November's general election.

The No. 2 House Republican also told CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, guest host on Sunday's "State of the Union," that he's "not ready to close out any options right now" on running for public office in the future.

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Cantor, who was heavily favored to win the GOP primary, lost last week to underfunded political novice Dave Brat, a college professor, in Virginia's 7th Congressional District. Brat's win in the Richmond-area campaign has injected new energy into tea party efforts this year.

Cantor 'earthquake' rattles Capitol Hill

Asked by Bash if he'll vote for Brat, Cantor said "of course" he would be voting Republican.

"I want a Republican to hold this seat," he said. "This is about making sure that we have a strong Republican majority in the House."

The Virginia Republican said he was with his family Tuesday as the votes rolled in. Perhaps underscoring the shock of the election night results, Cantor said he called his son in New York to break the news that he'd lost, and his son initially thought he was kidding.

"I told them, I said, look, dad is going to lose," he said. "And I actually called my son, who works up in New York, and I told him. And he said, you're kidding I said, 'No, I'm really not.'"

Key races to watch in 2014

The pollster for Cantor's campaign, John McLaughlin, had the majority leader up 34 points prior to election night. Cantor lost by 10 percentage points.

"I think the obvious is I came up short in terms of number of votes," Cantor said when asked about the discrepancy.

Cantor later added: “I don't have any regrets, you know, because I remain focused on the mission that I'm about.”

And despite the huge upset, he remained decidedly firm on not offering a personal analysis of his loss, repeating multiple times that he's "looking forward."

But what does that mean?

Asked by Bash if he's considering running for public office again - possibly for governor of Virginia - Cantor left all options on the table, saying that he and his wife, Diana, are still discussing what the future will hold.

Brat ran a campaign focusing heavily on his conservative Christian values. Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, said he doesn’t think his faith was a factor in his primary loss.

“I don't even want to impute that to anybody,” he said. “I knew that I'm going to continue to try and work with the lessons that I've learned from my early years in Hebrew school, learning about the Old Testament and much greater leaders than I with personal setbacks, but always focused on being optimistic about the future.”

Cantor, who was thought to be a likely successor to John Boehner for the speaker position, said last week he would step down as House majority leader, triggering a scramble among conservatives to replace him. Boehner has since reaffirmed his intention to remain speaker.

In announcing his decision to step down, Cantor gave his full-throated support to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy should he run. Cantor said McCarthy "would make an outstanding majority leader."

More from the interview:

Complete coverage of the 2014 midterm elections

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: 2014 • Eric Cantor • House Republicans • Tea Party • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Richard

    Cantor later added: “I don't have any regrets, you know, because I remain focused on the mission that I'm about.”

    Then he thought to himself "Besides, I'll become a lobbyist and make tens times what I was making as a mere representative".

    June 15, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. ComeOn2013

    The best man won.

    June 15, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Loathstheright

    Most of America regrets the low IQ voters who voted this guy in.

    June 15, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    No Republican in their right mind, would vote for a Democrat, in this environment where the Democratic Party is subversive to America.

    June 15, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. It's obvious

    Ya know, that hairdo alone is reason enough to get bounced out Congress.

    June 15, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. Tom

    Good riddance to another obstructionist Republican! 😉

    June 15, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I guess he has to discuss his options with his sponsors

    June 15, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Fuzzback

    Of course he has no regrets. He'll be over on K street pulling in the big bucks in short order...

    June 15, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Vijay

    He has many millions in bank account, why he has to worry and also either he will start PAC's or in Fox News... that is plain and simple.

    June 15, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Smeagel4T

    Hey, Eric. Got that K Street lobbying job lined up yet? I advise it. It'll pay a lot more than Fox. If you end up at Fox, it means you're a loser that K Street has no use for. 🙂

    June 15, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Thomas

    @Rick McDaniel
    No Republican in their right mind, would vote for a Democrat, in this environment where the Democratic Party is subversive to America.


    Green Eggs and Ham ?

    June 15, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Robert N. constant

    Ity is obvious that Brat played the religion card, wearing his Evangelical Christian faith on his sleeve to defeat Cantor who was the only Republican Jew in Congress. A history of the area will show you that the KKK targeted not only Blacks but Catholics and Jews as well. Brat played to that, using the word Jesus more than the words immigration reform.
    There is no question that there is a strong racist as well as a strong anti Semitic segment of Virginia's 7th district Republican voters. They came out in droves to send the lone Republican Jew in Congress packing. If you listen carefully, you can hear the celebration still going on: " Puraise Jesus! Hallelujah! "

    June 15, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Dennis F

    I looked at the actual numbers for the primary and Brat had 36.110 votes to Cantor's 28,898 votes. I then looked at the 2012 general election results between Cantor and his Democratic opponent. Cantor had 222.983 votes. Powell had 158,012 votes. There were 914 write-in votes for other people. The total number of votes cast in the 2012 general election for the VA 7th District was 381,909. The Brat vote (36,110) in the recent primary represents less than 10% of the total number of votes cast in the 2012 general election.

    Will Brat have the support of enough of the 'Republicans In Name Only' that reside in the VA 7th Congressional District to win the General Election? It will be interested to see if Brat does hold a lead at the end of the 2014 general election or falls flat, just as Richard Mourdock did in the Indiana Senate race in 2012.

    June 15, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Dennis F

    In addition...It would also be interesting to know how many of Brat's primary total were from Democrats who chose to vote in the Republican Primary in order to weaken the Republican ticket for the General Election. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have people of low enough scruples to do just that in primary elections.

    June 15, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. Mickey Mouse

    The guy is not even smart enough to understand that country hostage taking doesn't cut it. lol

    June 15, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  16. don in albuquerque

    Rick McDaniel

    June 15, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. VEW2012

    There was no love for Cantor, and there is also no love for the Tea Party.

    June 15, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  18. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Check that grin. He's about to become a multimillionaire doing nothing more than lobbying for conservative causes. Kinda reminds me of the Alfred E Newman saying, What, Me Worry. Get ready to be screwed more and more.

    June 15, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    His district voted against hiring someone who never wants to work.

    June 15, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. nytw

    With this liberal out of Congress America is a better place.

    June 15, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. Robert N. constant

    The two words Brat used more than ony others to beat Cantor were 'Jesus" and "God." Brat brought out the Christian Evangelical voters who voted for one of their own. Were these people prejudiced against Cantor because he was a Jew or prejudiced towards Brat because he was a Christian Evangelical? Flip a coin.
    There were other factors: low turnout, unhappiness with the status quo, Democratic crossovers, Immigration Reform.
    Factoring all that in, it still looks as if it was Jesus who beat Cantor and not Brat who is one of those guys who thinks Adam ran around with the dinosaurs. The good news? Brat can count to 21, as long as he is in the shower.

    June 15, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. stupid liberals

    If you support illegal behavior, become a democrat. There is a reason why there are so many of them currently serving prison time and the most violent cities in America are democrat controlled.

    June 15, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. lildum

    The Cantor defeat was a huge upset; however, I've yet to hear any of the paid pundits talk "pay back" for the inactivity of Congress. But then of course, none of them saw the upset coming either. I wouldn't want to be an incumbent in either party. The American public is tired of the inactivtiy and is starting to awaken.

    June 15, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  24. Marie MD

    What an idiot soon to be a very rich idiot. He will be lobbying for all the wrong causes.
    He gave birth to the teaklans and the child has stabbed him in the back but he will still make sure he makes it to the throne.

    June 15, 2014 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  25. S. B. Stein

    If he is really Jewish, then he shouldn't be referring to the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible, as the Bible and not the Old Testament. He didn't reflect all the Jewish values or didn't really learn them.

    June 15, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
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