Eric Cantor is a Republican from Virginia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor became the first person in American history to lose his primary while holding that position. He lost Tuesday night to a poorly-funded GOP opponent in the biggest electoral stunner in several cycles.
College professor David Brat defeated Cantor, 56 percent to 44 percent, with 80 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.
“I know there’s a lot of long faces here tonight,” Cantor told assembled supporters Tuesday night, with his wife standing by his side. “It’s disappointing sure, but I believe in this country, I believe there’s opportunity around the next corner for all of us.
“So, I look forward to continuing to fight with all of you for the things that we believe in for the conservative cause, because those solutions of ours are the answer to the problems that so many people are facing today.”
It is extremely rare for a member of House leadership to lose — especially in a primary. The most recent majority leader or speaker to lose re-election was the late Democratic Speaker Tom Foley of Washington. But he lost in a general election in the 1994 Republican wave.
Cantor’s defeat will likely send shockwaves through Capitol Hill. He was widely viewed as a potential successor to Speaker John A. Boehner for the top leadership spot in the House.
“I’m shocked. I’m just shocked,” said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., on Tuesday evening. “Obviously, it throws leadership into turmoil, it obviously shakes up the party in Virginia.”