Cantor appeared at a leadership press conference Tuesday, hours before losing his primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated in a Republican primary Tuesday, conceding his Virginia seat to a local activist after a stunning loss with possibly dramatic consequences for leadership, the chances of any immigration overhaul passing Congress and the future of his party.
He is the first majority leader ever to fall in primary defeat — the position was created in 1899.
Cantor, toppled by college economics professor Dave Brat, 56 percent to 44 percent, conceded just after The Associated Press declared the race over.
Democratic and Republican leadership aides expressed total disbelief and dumbfoundedness Tuesday night. Political operatives in the Old Dominion and organizers in Washington quickly studied election law to see if he could run as a write-in.
With his wife, Diana Fine Cantor, at his side, Cantor choked back emotion and did not sound like a man aiming to stage a comeback.