Just a few miles from his family home, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) felt the wrath of the tea party Saturday, when activists in his congressional district booed and heckled the second-most powerful House Republican.
They also elected one of their own to lead Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Republican Committee, turning their back on Cantor’s choice for a post viewed as crucial by both tea party and establishment wings in determining control of the fractured state GOP.
Former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling, pushed out of last year’s governor’s race by a similar party schism, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the results of the vote, in which longtime Cantor loyalist and incumbent Linwood Cobb was unseated by tea party favorite Fred Gruber.
“Clearly, there is a battle taking place for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Bolling said in a statement. “While the voice of every Republican should be heard, our challenge is to figure out how to be a conservative party, without allowing the most extreme voices of the day to control our party and determine its future direction.”
The tea party faction trumpeted the election results as a victory for core conservative principles of limited government, low taxes and a free-market economy.
“There’s been an ongoing battle for years between conservatives and establishment, and it’s a sweet victory when you win but you also win on the front porch of Eric Cantor,” said Jamie Radtke, a leader in the state tea party movement and former U.S. Senate candidate.
Cantor has become a "Washington insider" now, someone who is standing as an impediment to the unleashing the full crazy of the Tea Party. Someone who has failed to repeal Obamacare, who has failed to impeach the President, who has failed to take the country back to 1860. Eric Cantor is now the enemy.
Of course, Cantor will win his primary and re-election easily. And he'll still be part of the GOP "leadership" because the notion that the Tea Party is somehow separate from the Republican mainstream is idiotic. They're all the same. In the end, Republicans will come around, united by their desire to lynch President Obama.
The rest is merely semantics.