Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

Sad, Shocked, Oblivious: The Capitol Reacts to Cantor Defeat

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wednesday turned out to be a tough day for Rep. Steve King to traverse the Capitol.

Pinned against an ornate wall outside the House chamber, the Iowa Republican said the throngs of reporters prowling for members to talk to during the afternoon vote series was “about as big a press gauntlet as I remember.”

As a top talker on immigration policy, King was in high demand from members of the Fourth Estate looking for insight into House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat in a central Virginia Republican primary. King said he was also having a rough day emotionally.

“I will tell you, for me, I carry in me a sadness for Eric Cantor and his family,” King told CQ Roll Call. He paused, and sighed. “Now though, we need to look to the future.”

The Republican Study Committee didn’t discuss the leadership shakeup Wednesday morning, according to King, but he admitted to having many “one-on-one” conversations in an effort to sense the mood of the conference.

“There’s no question it is a cataclysmic shock,” King said as Capitol Police officers guarded the door, attempting to shoo back the reporters trying to pepper his colleagues with questions about the stunning defeat. “Perhaps as far as a single primary election, I can’t think of anything in the history of this country that has been so abrupt and so surprising.”

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, made a stoic entrance for the first vote series of the day from Statuary Hall. Blinding flashes and a chorus of camera clicks filled the air as Boehner strode into the chamber, flanked by his security detail.

His chief spokesman held court with about a dozen reporters in one of many large scrums that took place during the afternoon vote. The muggy June air outside the Capitol felt stifling in the second floor corridor, a result of tension in the chamber and body heat of additional reporters. Press galleries on the House side of the Capitol were packed, and photographers roamed the halls, trying to get a shot of the defeated leader.

“It’s the buzz … it’s been the buzz ever since it happened,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., confirmed. To fight the heat, and fit the fashion trend of the day, Cohen was decked out in a seersucker jacket. He predicted the upset, which many have said was a result of Cantor’s position on immigration, would “chill people’s interest in putting their necks out at all.”

“I think it’s going to have a very bad effect on legislation, not that we’ve passed much legislation anyway, but I don’t think you’re going to see any immigration reform or anything at all major happen the rest of this Congress, and maybe as long as the Republicans are in charge,” Cohen added.

Not all Democrats were quick to draw political conclusions from the upset. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., co-chairman of his caucus’ Steering and Policy Committee, tucked himself into a cushy leather chair in the back corner of the Speaker’s Lobby and scanned the Marketplace pages of the Wall Street Journal as the 1:15 p.m. vote series began.

He said he hadn’t had a lot of interaction with his colleagues since Tuesday night’s news. “I’m sure it will be interesting during the vote,” he said, rising slowly from his seat and heading to the floor.

Off the floor, a reporter joked with Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, asking after a light slap on the back, “Can we call you the dean now?”

The Northern Virginia Democrat, currently serving his third term, laughed heartily. All day, people asked Connolly what happened in the 7th District and whether he saw the defeat coming.

“No,” he answered. “I knew there was trouble brewing in the south because of the convention he had,” Connolly said, referring to the heckling activists that booed Cantor during a Republican convention in May. “I mean, that was a warning bell, but did I think he would be toppled? No. … I was as shocked as almost everybody else out there.”

Capitol employees, including the employees directing oblivious tourists from the elevator, said they were bummed and surprised by the defeat. Cantor was a friendly, familiar face to some and often stopped to smile at them in the halls of the Capitol.

A middle-school group touring the first floor of the Capitol Wednesday strolled past the row of reporters staking out House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s office on their way to pick up gallery passes to watch the action in the chamber.

Like most of the mid-June tourists clipping down the marble corridors, the youngsters sporting matching emerald polo shirts went about their tour with little knowledge of, or concern for, the deliberations about which Republican should control the rapidly changing, relatively dysfunctional chamber in the wake of the defeat.

The actual dean of Congress, Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., rejected categorizing the loss as “historic” and said he would prefer to say “momentous.”

“I haven’t been able to sense the mood out yet,” Dingell said. “On our side, they’re trying to figure out what it means. On the Republican side, some of them are trying to figure out what it all means, and some of them are trying to run for leadership positions. What it means is the country’s going to be hurt, this place is going to be hurt; Congress is not going to move forward, and they’re going to spend their time fighting with each other instead of working with us to work out the nation’s problems … but that’s part of what brought this on.”


Related stories:

Leadership Shuffle Begins After Cantor Shocker


Dave Brat: 11 Things to Know


Eric Cantor Loses Primary in Massive Upset (Video)


Republican Senate Primary Challengers Jump on Eric Cantor Loss


Eric Cantor’s Defeat Was in the Immigration Tea Leaves


On Immigration, the Pressure Mounts for Eric Cantor


10 Republicans Who Could Be Speaker


Cantor’s Pediatric Research Bill Could Have Been a Bust


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  • Jazzy

    Let it be a warning call to ANYONE in the senate or house blocking EUC benefits. Elected officials, we are tired of you promoting your own agendas with a magical wand.

    Senators, Reps, etc, – we just wont show up to vote for you, simple enough. You dont care about us, why should we care about you? What are you doing for 3 million people who’ve had their EMERGENCY unemployment cut off.

    I sold my business suit on Craigslist, my Kindle Fire on craigslist, just so I could have money to feed my 13 year old. What Senators, Reps of House have you done to stop this? NOTHING

    • GardenGrl

      Keep your chin up.

    • Jazzy

      PS, my business suit was way nicer than the lane bryant outlet piece she’s pouting in.

      • left wing

        quit spending all your time talking to yourself and get a job

    • Jazzy

      That’s right Jeff Bezos, my Kindle Fire.

    • JadedByPolitics

      99 weeks of government checks isn’t unemployment my dear that is welfare.

      • Layla

        It didn’t start out that way. Obamacare is a job killer. Businesses have been given waivers while citizens have not. Companies that have decided not to close have put everyone on part time. I think maybe it’s time we pay Congress and the administration in the same way, afterall, neither are seldom working.

    • Rick Caird

      “You are weak, you are inhuman, and you are going to be replaced by people who show they care.”

      Care about who, darling? Those who are paying or those that are receiving. What kind of country will it be if there are fewer people paying than receiving? Is that what you think a caring contry shold look like?

      • Layla

        The kind we have right now, 1 in 4 on some sort of federal aid, no jobs and now Congress and the President pushing AMNESTY.

      • Layla

        Most needing help right now are those who are still losing jobs, homes. They were productive Americans and want to be productive again. What happened to those promises of JOBS?

        They weren’t lying, were they??????????

    • left wing

      good, we do not need more big spenders in congress

    • Layla

      Make sure you get both sides, or you fix NOTHING.

    • Layla

      We need JOBS, not continued bailouts of special interests.

  • GardenGrl

    People do vote their pocketbooks, and the guys in DC who are saying this is sad and bad have forgotten about real Americans. Brat said that people like Cantor sided with Wall Street and crony capitalism over Main Street, and everywhere I look I see confirmation that this is true.

    I hope Congress gets the message that silicon valley is, with few exceptions, not their constituency, but reading this article I doubt that they have.

    • Layla

      Cantor sided with WallStreet? Your president never met an industry he didn’t want to BAIL OUT at the expense of the American people. If you’re going to take them, at least take them ALL OUT. We might get some jobs out of the next Congress.

  • Dan Coddington

    I thought with Cantor losing it might push congress to actually do something but sounds like they are going to bury their heads in the sand and hope for the best. Just another reason I will be voting against every incumbent this November. Either work and get things done or you will be voted out.

  • Jazzy

    To the blond lady in tears on the cover of this story.. Looks like all those self medication meals with Cantor got ya bloated 45-50lbs. Time to grow the hair long again and hit the treadmill, God knows you are going to need good looks when you are interviewing for a part time waitress gig.

    • Layla


  • James McConville

    I absolutely agree with the Jazzy post. The writing is on the wall. It is now time for those who have been denying basic human dignity through UI/EUC to now experience it for themselves!

    A clear message was sent last night to all who feel that they are immune from the “real world” that the rest of us live in, get off of your a@#s and do your job! We just made an “example” out of one of you!

    I truly believe that if I were Mr. Boehner, I would have had the bill to at least extend UI/EUC on the floor for a vote first thing this morning. There is no doubt that the power of the “little people'” was made very apparent today!

    Mr. Boehner, you really only have two (2) options now sir, either start listening to the people who allow you to be there, or you are next. If I were you sir, I would send it to the floor today! And Mr. McConnell, you will soon be history either way so how does it feel to be irrelevant, because very soon you will be!

    • MoptopTheConservative

      Yeah, that was what it was about, keeping you from having to find a job.

    • Layla

      What is it you don’t understand about the fact that America cannot exist with 40% employed and everybody else collecting unemployment?

      The gravy train is OVER.

  • James McConville

    By the way, there is no valid reason for them to hunker down now and hide their proverbial “heads in the sand”, you might as well at least pretend you care now and miraculously pass the UI/EUC. The damage has already been done.

    I truly feel that the age of the career politician has run it’s course. Those of you who counted on the “populous” not paying attention have just found otherwise and we can only hope that you will assume that it was a fluke.

    In truth, I never cared much either until it personally effected me, now I’m an advocate for all whom have suffered the same fate as myself, and I am an ardent fan of CSPAN!

    If you really don’t want us to know what you are up to, keep it off TV! Oh that’s right, too late! Just in case you all haven’t gotten it yet, your game is almost over!

    • left wing

      quit whining and get a job already

  • Bayou Mudbugg

    Dear Jazzy….U R MY HERO!!!!!!

  • biggin

    see ya REPUBLICANS

    • laughnow

      dont count chickens yet girly man.

    • Layla

      You leaving?

      • biggin

        no I was saying bye to the Republicans

  • biggin

    was the blonde crying about 3 million Americans suffering? I think not

  • biggin


    • MoptopTheConservative

      Bill Clinton was actually a pretty reasonable guy. You probably should pick a different avatar for your eliminationist rhetoric.

      • Andrew70

        Bill Clinton is a lying, arrogant felon. It what way is a President who commits felonies (Perjury and Obstruction of Justice), sexually assults women, prostitutes interns, pardons criminals (Marc Rich) in return for campaign funds, etc. etc. a “reasonable guy”?

        Clinton and his Democrats are perfect examples of Jonah Goldberg’s book, “Liberal Fascism”

        • MoptopTheConservative

          Yeah, but he never sounded like he wanted all Republicans dead, and I never felt like he didn’t consider himself the president of the US, but rather the President of the Democrats, the way I do about this current crop.

      • left wing

        no, he was a serial rapist, thief and liar.

    • palintologist

      They’re sad because widdle Ewic was “one of them, the elite.”

  • PasoFinoCA

    Dingle – “Congress is going to be hurt”……..Firing this bunch is good for.the country. Mealy mouthed pretentious overspending fools.

    • RickZ

      I think you missed a word after ‘firing': Squad.

  • Joe Blow

    The sad thing is it should have been Boehner, McConnell, and Graham too that were voted out of office but the idiots in their states put them right back in.

  • bflat879

    With what’s happening on the Southern Border, Congress could pass anything and this President wouldn’t enforce it. Until we have a Chief Executive that understands the Constitution, we’ll continue to have a serious problem with immigration.

  • Deserttrek

    one down and more to go .. cantor was not a friend of the People or the Republic.

  • JoeKlip

    I think all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate should change their name to Hispanic names since they love the Hispanics more than they love Americans.

    • 3rdrailpopnfresh

      Hispanics are as Americans as Irish, Scotts, English, German…Hell, they were here before most except maybe the native Americans which everybody else pushed out.

      • Layla

        Don’t try to divide us on race, please. Hispanic families are as much American as any other immigrant. The issue here is ILLEGAL LAWBREAKERS. That will never be acceptable to those in this country, including our Hispanics.

        • 3rdrailpopnfresh

          Make them citizens and tax them–worked for us in the US. We’re all immigrants.

          • LeighLeigh

            Illegals shoud never get the right to vote. They can be legal and live here and pay taxes, but they can never receive the privilege of being a citizen. Period.

          • Layla

            NOT if you break the law. if you break the law you are not an American, you are an unwelcome FELON. And in most nations, you would be shot.

          • 3rdrailpopnfresh

            I don’t think anybody except for defense lawyers are for protecting criminals. However, if you pay taxes, enlist to fight in one of the military branches and work in this country, you are an American. And if you break the law, like other Americans, you do the time. I’m not for deporting people so they can escape trial and jail and just find their way back.

          • richard40

            If you prefer to jail illegal immigrants for extended sentences, before they get deported, I could support that as well, since it would give them a reason not to trycorssing again. But I doubt if that is what your deceptive pro amnesty commments are really demanding.

          • Layla

            These people need to be put on planes and flown BACK TO THEIR COUNTRIES NOW, and our borders need to be sealed. Nothing else will pass this Congress.

          • Layla

            I’m sorry, but that is NOT FAIR to the still over 100 MILLION AMERICANS still without jobs and those STILL LOSING HOMES. This government pandering and corruption must stop. That is what this November election will be about.

          • left wing

            reward criminals, that always works. did it in 1986 and now we have MILLIONS more criminals invading.

          • 3rdrailpopnfresh

            they’re not all criminals just like not all Anglos are serial killers and school shooters.

          • Layla

            If they cross that border illegally, they are. Americans, ALL Americans resent that very much.

          • richard40

            Except in too many cases once they become citizens they wont pay taxes, they will collect handouts. That is the primary problem, our handout culture. About 100 yrs ago, our southern border was generally open, and anybody could come here, but we were not flooded with people.
            Thats because when they came here they had to work just as hard as everybody else, and if they did not know English and have some skills, nobody would hire them anyway. And if they did not work, no handouts, they did not eat, and would often get disgusted and go back home. We can never have open immigration again unless the dem handout culture ends, especially in a period when too many americans cant find work. Wait till unemployment falls, and we start having a labor shortage, then maybe it would be time to loosen up legal immigration some.

      • Michael Teigen

        Everyone forgets about places like my home state of Florida which was owned by Spain back in the day.

    • richard40

      Its not about hispanics, since there are plenty of non hispanic illegal immigrants, and many hispanics have been US citizens for generations. It is about illegal immigrants, regardless of nationality.

  • rwnutjob

    It IS about unemployment, but not the way you think. It’s about amnesty destroying jobs. NONE of the major Tea Party groups had ANY money in this race. This was NOT a Tea Party win. That’s a convenient excuse to demonize regular people who want their government back.

    • Layla

      We have to BLAME somebody for this, can’t possibly be the fault of the administration policies, Congress. Let’s see how they feel after November.

      • 3rdrailpopnfresh

        they’ll feel fine–they get paid either as Congressmen or lobbyists.

        • Layla

          LOTS of surprises ahead for BOTH sides!

        • Layla

          A new Congress can change those rules. Don’t be such a pessimist.

  • Mysticbeetle

    “I will tell you, for me, I carry in me a sadness for Eric Cantor and his family,” King told CQ Roll Call.

    No sadness necessary.

    He’s probably already got his job lined up on K or J street or as CEO with the chamber of commerce or as consultant for “La Raza”.

  • NikFromNYC

    He’s a climate (model) skeptic. Gee, I *wonder* why:

  • halevi

    Cantor’s salary will increase – probably by an order of magnitude (that means x10). I don’t feel sorry for him one bit.

  • Jack Hennessy

    The seats belong to the people not the Pols…we need to throw all the senators and house members out every eight years…no more SSDD…

  • left wing

    one down and many more lying democrats posing as pubs to go.

  • Blacque Jacques Shellacque

    “Now though, we need to look to the future.”

    Here’s the message: Stop pushing amnesty.

    It’s really that simple.

    • LeighLeigh

      Pushing Border Security first is the answer.

      • Layla

        What border security? Considering what’s happening now, that’s a joke. This President needs to be impeached and we all know it. Funny, but that is what is going to cost BOTH SIDES losses.

  • ToursLepantoVienna

    Some of us are outraged that our political and business “leaders” conspire to welcome every illegal who manages to get across our border, against our laws and against the wishes of a majority of Americans.

    That’s “the mood” Dingell apparently hasn’t “been able to sense”

    • Layla

      Dingell hasn’t been able to “sense” anything for decades. He’s got cobwebs on him.

  • megapotamus

    We have to get away from this idea that someone losing a public office is suffering some sort of punishment. Neither the seat nor the Speakership were Cantor’s to possess. Boo-frickin’ hoo for Cantor. Don’t cry for him, Argentina. He’ll be on the other side of the PAC ledger but he’ll still be dining on an expense account.

  • Constitution First

    For those of you in mourning; keep your funeral suit on the front rack..

  • Michael Teigen

    The GOP is falling like a “House of Cards”!

    • Layla

      Several Democrats lose and then one member of the GOP and you think the party is collapsing? hahahahahahahahahahahah! This election day is going to be a real eye opener for everybody. Let’s see, we have: Fast and Furious, the IRS being used as a weapon against Americans, Obamacare being forced on people who cannot afford it, Benghazi and now AMNESTY!

      Michael, are you really dumb enough not to think the American people are MORE than a little pissed at Washington? And it’s not just the Republicans.

    • richard40

      Actually if you want to find houses of cards collapsing, a better example would be to look at Obama. And the GOP is going to do fine, although some rhinos may have trouble.

  • broomhandle

    Some of the commenters here don’t seem to understand what happened. A Republican lost the Republican primary to…a more conservative Republican. It’s a safe Republican district. If you think Cantor lost the primary because of unemployment insurance you are woefully ignorant.

    • palintologist

      That stuff about “a safe R district” is bunk. Like everything else, it has been infiltrated with leftists. It’s not nearly so safe for an “R.”

  • Layla

    There is going to be a lot of sadness on Capitol Hill in November. Bring your Kleenex.

  • left wing

    one of the royals bites the dust and the other royals mourn

  • Murph Johnston

    Although liberty’s benefits increase along with our commitment to it, liberty’s importance has little to do with the number of people who actually want to use it.

  • White Army

    Collectivists claim that particular forms of collectivism, like “democratic socialism” or “social democracy” will eliminate the problem, identified by Lenin, of who decides for whom.

  • Bitter Cold

    Where liberty thrives, our livelihood depends upon the usefulness of our unique talents, skills, and capabilities rather than the merits of our efforts as judged by those who rule over us.

  • Rhonda Bates

    While a majority’s opinion may tell us what some people desire on a particular occasion, it cannot tell us what those very same people would choose if they were more educated.

    • michael mathis

      7th district voters of Chesterfield and Henrico counties are very educated and knew that Cantor had ceased representing our interests and US interests in favor of a “progressive lite” agenda. We know of his Democrat wife who runs or is on some major business boards of directors. We’ve gotten a bit tired of progressive change agents masquerading as “conservatives”.

  • http://MZ? Garland Sidell

    I recently noticed your website back i are generally looking through which on a daily basis. Youe got a loads of information at this site so i actually like your look to the web a tad too. Maintain the best show results!

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