The Real Story of Eric Cantor’s Downfall

Helpful guide for people who actually get paid to write things for a living but still haven’t the foggiest clue what went down in the 7th District this past week.

This is not the story of how Dave Brat won – this is the story of how Eric Cantor lost. Additional storylines relating to this race are not fully articulated here.

Miscellaneous preliminaries

The Establishment Strikes Back – Slating in Virginia Beach

Escalating contention dating back years between grassroots Republicans and the party establishment came to a head in early March of this year. Establishment allies deployed a shocking and repulsive new-old tactic called “slating” to maintain their loosening control over the party. Then the fun began…

The First Battle of Virginia

Slating fight moves to Cantor’s backyard, Henrico County, where the first battle is fought. Conservative forces, in a huge upset, defeat this slating attempt in a bitter, knock-down, drag-out fight, scoring the grassroots’ first victory of this election season.

Dirty Deeds (Done Expensively)

A challenger emerges, and Cantor makes all the wrong moves – making himself personally the focus of the righteous wrath of the conservative grassroots, blowback from the slating scandal and festering resentments born of years of supine House GOP leadership politics.

Bizarrely – and I would love to know the actual chain of events that led to this decision – Cantor, by proxy, takes aim directly at conservatives, making an amnesty push while openly taunting the GOP grassroots with accusations of racism. At this point the Cantor camp is behaving as if there is no primary election coming up, a feat of epic political malpractice.

Reaping What Has Been Sown

The public relations disaster that ensued gave opponents of Cantor the ammunition to go on the offensive, not only against the Representative personally, but also against his network of political patrons, cronies, and associates, and opens the door to the articulation of conservative views on issues that find no voice among present-day GOP leaders.

The Panic Phase

Cantor, feeling the heat, finally throws conservatives a bone and capitulates on Benghazi. However, the war on conservatives continues to be run from his office, and he fails to get any credit for it. Anti-establishment forces, invigorated by victory, continue to build momentum with gains in party offices across the Commonwealth.

The Second Battle of Virginia

The second big conflict between establishment forces, now personified by Cantor, and conservative grassroots resulted in a Cantor loyalist being tossed from the chairmanship of Cantor’s own district. Cantor has now lost control of his own political base, having lost his home county of Henrico and now his home district.

Grassroots forces aren’t completely, victorious, however, as they fail to overcome obstacles in Virginia’s 5th District. That doesn’t help Cantor, though – but it remains a backdrop to the race.

The Pattern of Facepalm Leadership

Meanwhile, disgraced former GOP Governor-Turncoat Bob McDonnell and Baby Bill Bolling make the news again, reminding everyone of just how great a job the old GOP political establishment – of which Cantor was a key part – has been doing for the party.

A Constitutional Conservative Coalition Emerges

The bottom falls out for Cantor as Republicans of all stripes are now openly calling for his ouster, articulating new visions of a post-quisling era of Republican politics, while Cantor supporters offer less inspiring arguments.

Game Over, Insert Campaign Donation

I was the only person on the planet who called Cantor’s loss as early as the 6th of June. Absolutely nobody in the media is giving me any credit for it, and this annoys me to no end. The rest of this part of the story is the earthquake that woke up the rest of the world.


This story does come with a happy ending – for most, anyway.

As Matt Drudge might say, “developing…”

About Alexis Rose Bank

Litter name Rose, was named Alexis upon adoption. During the TARP bailouts, acquired the last name "Bank" in order to qualify as a bank holding company and get a $13 billion bailout, since that trick worked out for Goldman Sachs. Still waiting on the check from Treasury.

For pictures of cats and capital finance jokes, follow me on Twitter @icanhasbailout

  • smartypup

    Well done. I rarely watch Fox News Cable network anymore, but I did tune in to watch talking heads discuss this big story. Was very disappointed, they turned to beltway insiders and no one had the story right or complete. No one outside of Virginia understands howxdirty Cantor was and how he and his henchmen tried to snuff out the grassroots.

  • BS Detector

    I did see Andrea on ‘The Five’ talk at least a little bit about the role slating played in explaining how Cantor had allowed himself to become so toxic and divisive. Of course there are those in Virginia who openly ignore this truth and like a broken record, bleat about the democrat cross over vote, an idea that they openly embraced as a billy club to beat folks over the head with when they opposed conventions. If it continues, names should be named and a post delving into the long history of how some of them are to this day actively working against the best interests of the state and especially their local GOPs when their preferred candidate loses.

  • Former NC resident

    Maybe after the election in November the grassroots in VA can channel their (our) energy into changing the election laws in VA. 98% of these shenanigans couldn’t even be attempted if we registered by party and had all the primaries for all the races for all the parties on ONE day every spring (and no conventions for nomination).
    That’s how it’s done in NC and no one could get away with “slating” since the secretaries (county, district) credential. Delegates allotted are based on percentage of registered GOP. And in NC county and district chairs who openly endorsed candidates before the primary would be ostracized and ousted! Grassroots Virginians need to learn from the RED neighbor to the south.

  • Catherine Stone McNickle

    I wish some of Friend’s of Cantors (FOCs) would at least concede that he did not foster his district relationships the way they needed to be fostered for the past 4-5 years. I know being House Majority Leader means travel and fundraising, and a security apparatus – and I am sympathetic to time constraints – but if one is intellectually honest they will admit that he had problems that were not just “those crazy tea partiers were after him”…..because quite frankly, he was a TP favorite prior to his constituent realtionship problems. Anecdotal evidence – but I know several people outside the political bubble in the 7th (one is a moderate democrat), and their comments after he lost were pretty telling….”who is surprised? The guy is a jerk”………”people are sick of Cantor, he is just a DC crony”……….”Money doesn’t buy you love”. Whether perception is reality or not, FOCs need to admit Cantor wasn’t perfect – take the halo off his head. No one is perfect, no candidate or person.

  • Sara James

    “I was the only person on the planet who called Cantor’s loss as early as
    the 6th of November. Absolutely nobody in the media is giving me any
    credit for it, and this annoys me to no end.”

    Nothing worse than an annoyed cat. I had a cat that used to express his displeasure with me by pooping in places he wasn’t supposed to. So, I’ll give you credit Alexis Rose. Good, clairvoyant kitty!

    • Alexis Rose Bank

      I meant June not November! I knew something didn’t look quite right about that…

  • Kevin Mann

    Looks like politico got it wrong again this morning. The article they have up attempting to explain Cantor`s loss blames everything from Pat Robertson to racism to it was the democrats. I’m going to start spamming them the link to this article until some writer there actually decides to do their job and figure it out. Then again it just wouldn’t fit the preferred narrative. Also, in the spirit of Bill Billing complaining, did anyone see his reaction to the Cantor defeat? I read something somewhere about him being really disappointed and he wanted to be the guy to bring the party back together or some nonsense.

  • Eric McGrane

    Great timeline ARB, well done.

  • Joseph

    Hey ARB On PJ media David Stienberg wrote something about Luis Gutierrez staging a fake anti cantor event, dos anyone here know about it? was it a factor in his loss?

    • Alexis Rose Bank

      It was one of many opportunities offered up on a silver platter by Cantor forces during the saga – they’ve been marinating in the halls of power for so long that they forgot how to represent the people. This one was seized upon by Brat, who showed up early to tell the truth before the fake anti-Cantor protest had its say.

  • Alan

    WOW! It was all there for anyone to see. It’s been amusing to hear the pundits spout their various theories about the race. Good job.

  • Jeanine Martin

    Great compilation of articles, terrific timeline. Thank you!

  • Jim Portugul

    Rose, would you or one of the others who were first with the primary result prediction, write about who will be thrown to the dogs next? Please?

  • Betsey_Ross

    What an outstanding timeline. I sure puts everything in perspective and lays out what could become the destruction of the Republican Party if citizens don’t finally rise up and tell the Party that we have had enough of what they have become. Stop trying to emulate Democrats and get back to your Republican roots, elected officials. This will be your story if you don’t get back on track.

  • subyz

    Super job! This is so instructive! Hopefully the ‘Country Class’ is learning to flex its muscles and defend itself against the dirty tricks and games the Political Ruling Class plays! #DaveBratforCongress!

  • Mark

    Had the machine ignored trying to take over SCC and the use of slating as that tool to oust District Chairman, none of this would have happened.

  • kendog

    Folks, the grassroots did a great job of showing up and becoming delegates which is how party leadership is affected. You can’t just vote on primary day, you have to get involved in your local party to make change. Don’t sit and watch, save your children’s futures by going to your local party meetings and finding allies. Then, do the necessary deeds to become party delegates, campaign for the right people as well as donating money to good candidates. The Founding Fathers had to do so much more so this is the least any caring modern day Patriot should do. And yes, I’m a delegate up here in MI and I would never suggest others do what I do not.

  • Max Shapiro

    Those are all reasons why Cantor lost, having to do with who powered Brat to victory. But I would caution you that if you polled everyone who voted in the 7th that not even 10% of people would say they heard of more than 3 of those things actually happened. Most like the 7th Dist Chair race, the Syria issue, and Laura Ingraham. Inside baseball moves volunteers and volunteers move voters and in this case volunteers won the election. But you are dead wrong if you think posts on your blog or slating or district conventions did anything to influence the vast majority of people who voted that don’t even know that a Republican Party with local and district committees even exist.

    • Alexis Rose Bank

      It’s the Butterfly Effect in a highly chaotic system, Max. Does Cantor keep his seat in a scenario where he holds onto Henrico, or where Greenwald stays in the race, or if the obnoxious amnesty push never happened? I believe he probably does.

      Do some of the later flubs happen if the earlier ones didn’t? I’m not sure they do – immigration doesn’t become a particular point of focus, and the amnesty ads don’t happen, without the blowback from the video.

      Every person involved in each of these events talks to many more, and any given voter only needed to hear one of many sordid details to sour on Cantor. Given that TBE’s reach alone exceeds the number of people who voted in the primary, and we were far from alone in documenting many of these events, I’d wager I’m on pretty firm ground sticking to my version of events.

      • Max Shapiro

        Based on how you didn’t attack me with your usual over the top rhetoric, I’m guessing you talked to someone who actually knows me in real life.

        I don’t think Cantor would have lost had he not spent millions attacking Brat. In campaigns, spending has a plateau affect. In a district like the 7th, you need to spend about $100,000 to reach every likely voter with your message to the extent that if they paid attention, they could reasonably decide to cast a vote for you. Brat passed that threshold, that was step 1. Step 2 was that Cantor ran those liberal TV professor ads about 1000 times according to media reports. You hear 1 thing about Brat from Brat and then hear from Cantor and the disconnect is so huge that it sticks in your mind.

        Then you get the boots on the ground, Laura Ingrahm, etc.. which seals the deal and shows people Cantor is so disconnected from reality and that Brat is the real deal.

        Lastly, web traffic doesn’t even close to approximating votes. At all. I just won a campaign where the website got 67 unique visitors over a 6 months period. We won with just over 1000 votes. So unless your Google Analytics is showing you are reaching by a factor of 10 more people than voted in the primary in 7th district localities weighted by percentage then you probably didn’t directly move many votes at all. Most who read this website are already inclined to not vote for Cantor. Anyone who is a Cantor supporter and reads your website was never going to vote for Brat.

        The key part about analyzing any win so that you can win again is to figure out where your resources and messaging overlapped to really see what had an effect. Cantor pissed off the volunteers, you spread that message wide and far and had an effect at the margins, but the vast majority of people you affected were already severely tilted towards being anti-Cantor. Its similar thing to when a politician takes a vote that pisses off a constituency that already hated them. Doesn’t really have any larger effect except making a segment of the electorate

        Not saying you all don’t deserve major props, just cautioning that you should not give yourselves so much credit because that leads to errors in campaign tactics next cycle. Assuming you live in the 7th or close by, what you and Jamie Radtke, etc.. did in real life on the ground had a much larger effect than what got posted on this blog.

        • Alexis Rose Bank

          All I’m taking credit for is being part of a group that reported the real story of Cantor’s defeat. I’m not claiming we caused it! But we did tell the truth about what was going on when so few others did, and I think it’s fair to say we compiled the best overall body of work reporting the events that led to this historic outcome.

          • Max Shapiro

            I definitely agree. The coverage on this blog is by far better than any in Virginia for Republican politics. It definitely made it on my list of morning reads the day I found out it existed.

  • mark4java

    I must’ve missed the part where the Party Chairman Pat Mullins spoke out against Cantor or where other elected Republicans rose up in opposition. In fact it would be great to see the list of delegates and operatives that were working w/Cantor behind the scenes. Cantor wasn’t alone and his loss should be just a beginning.