As the polls close in Virginia, it appears tea party challenger David Brat has defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th District.
Unlike other congressional A-listers who fell to an untimely defeat, Cantor will not be able to run as an independent candidate in the general election, though he could stage a write-in campaign. Meanwhile, a hard-right conservative tea party candidate running as the GOP nominee could open the door for a Democratic victory, even though the district went for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008.
“This is an earthquake,” said former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber, a friend of Cantor’s. “No one thought he’d lose.” But Brat, tapping into conservative anger over Cantor’s role in supporting efforts to reform federal immigration laws, found a way to combat Cantor’s significant financial edge.
As of just three days ago, polls showed Cantor leading by 13 points.
The Democratic candidate is Jack Trammell, a professor at Randolph Macon College.