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. Jocho Johnson

    Voters in the district have been vocal and adamant about the fact that they voted for Brat because of an anti-incumbent and anti-establishment feeling. Shame on CNN, and other media for pushing the idea that anti-Semitism was an issue.

    June 15, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    Cantor lost to tea party to candidate mean democrats will win the White House in 2016

    June 15, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. becky white

    That was a waste of time. He stuck to his "talking points." He lost because he has no firm convictions on anything except of course, "being against the President." That's not quite enough Mr. Cantor!

    June 15, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  4. sgayres

    When it comes down to it... a lot of people do not want want an influx of 20 million-plus instant citizens (many unemployed) who forced their way into the country and cut in line in front of others who have been waiting for years because they followed our established immigration processes.

    Call it what you want... amnesty, pathway, whatever... it will effect every US citizen negatively. Fewer labor jobs for unskilled US citizens and higher taxes for those who are paying taxes because of the government support that the unemployed will require.

    Failure to control the southern border and the hope brought on because of implied amenity during the next 2 years is causing a huge draw of illegals. The govt is keeping the press away from these holding areas because they know if more people find out how big this is, it will be discussed more.

    Once people realize the implications of granting amnesty to those in the US illegally, those politicians fostering amenity will have their jobs jeopardized.

    June 15, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. Lily

    Am waiting in November to see people in Kentucky pulling out another surprise.

    June 15, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Anonymous

    "but always focused on being optimistic about the future.”

    Says the guy who spent the past decade flinging doom and gloom thunderbolts throughout America.

    June 15, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  7. Thomas

    He lost because he is not a evangelistic Christian .

    June 15, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. nyfoodhistorian

    NO, you don't deserve another bite of the apple, but I'll give you my best advice anyway: For starters, Mr. Cantor, fire everyone on your staff and hire a bunch of folks who CARE about the average voter struggling to make a living. Tell Wall Street and K Street that you turned your back on main Street, and the price you paid was too high. By the way, as Jew, like it or not, you're obligated to set an example- so stop being an arrogant prick. IF you do all that, just maybe you have a decent shot at being the first Jewish US President of the United States.

    June 15, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  9. GonzoinHouston

    Primaries and mid-year elections are low-turnout affairs, and that means that winning is all about who's got the most enthusiastic supporters. Cantor probably had more support in his district, but the TP gang was much more psyched up (or P.O'd – take your pick), and delivered the bodies to the polls.

    June 15, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. t

    ...Best news the DEMS have gotten in a while........The completely nutz Tea Party will implode the election and the BLUE will WIN IN 2016

    June 15, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Pogostick

    I live in his district and I was shocked but pleased to see that he lost. He is smug and arrogant. I believe that because he supports the Tea Party ideals he thought that he was guarantee a congressional seat for life. Seventy percent of this district is Republican, what percent of that is Tea Party, I don not know. David Bratt will be no better but he will not have the influence/power that Cantor had. Jack Trammel will runs against Brat in Nov.

    June 15, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Vence

    After this interview I can clearly see why he lost! He did not support anything, and he didn't reject anything!

    June 15, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. glassbender

    cantor may have no 'regrets', but the rest of america DOES........

    June 15, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. marc

    The lucrative world of lobbying awaits. I suspect he'd be voting for his former opponent via absentee ballot since he apparently can't physically make it back to his district.

    June 15, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Zil Zerimar

    Be nice to people on your way up for you will surely meet them on your way down.......GOT IT CANTOR?

    June 15, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Dean R Darrough

    Another RINO gone.

    Establishment Republicans should re-think their position on "immigration reform."

    June 15, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. Prof M H Settelen

    One Princeton view was that America was not a Democracy
    but an Oligarchy; so has economist Prof Brat now proved
    this wrong or not?

    June 15, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Mephisto

    If he regrets nothing then he is a fool, and incapable of admitting his mistakes. He deserves to have lost.

    June 15, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Republiker

    A smart Democrat knows these are the winds of change and they're no longer blowing their direction.

    June 15, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. democrat4life

    finally the people have spoken and voted for a nonpolitician. vote all imcumbants out especially the crazy liberals

    June 15, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  21. Rationalintn

    Cantor is cool with losing. He and the misses made plenty of $ thanks to the connections he made during his time in congress. His staff was crying because they're now out of jobs, and can't afford to live on the money they didn't get.

    June 15, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. kenman14

    As a Conservative, and someone that is eager to remove ALL long-term politicians and especially the establishment good ole boys, I think it is disgusting that one is too arrogant, or stubborn, or foolish, or whatever, to say that they "regret" anything, even when they are soundly beaten by a relatively unknown person in their district! That means that the people that he represented rebuked him for whatever reason, and if he doesn't regret doing whatever he did to cause that rebuke of those closest to him and his responsibility, he should never hold an elected office!

    June 15, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. Searcher1

    It's been days, but the Cantor loss still makes me SMILE! Nothing like a little HUBRIS to bring down an entitled politician.....

    June 15, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Martha in CF

    Now another exciting story would be the loss of McConnell in his seat. He is no different than Cantor. Smug, arrogant, elitist.....

    June 15, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Searcher1

    Cantor felt like he was entitled to win and he ignored his district. Fatal mistake.....

    June 15, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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