GOP assesses Eric Cantor’s defeat

Eric Cantor.
Eric Cantor.

WASHINGTON — Republicans, including the vanquished majority leader himself, on Sunday considered Representative Eric Cantor’s primary loss last week to a little-known Tea Party challenger and what it means for the GOP heading forward.

The monumental rejection of House Republicans’ No. 2 lawmaker left many in Washington stunned and searching for a way to prevent another upset.

After his defeat, Cantor, Republican of Virginia, announced he would soon step down from his GOP leadership post but serve the remainder of his term.


‘‘I don’t think there’s any one particular reason why the outcome was what it was,’’ Cantor said, adding, ‘‘I don’t think anybody in the country thought that the outcome would be what it was.’’

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He appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union’’ and ABC’s “This Week.’’

Although Cantor said the party’s internal division “pales in comparison” to its differences with Democrats, he said Republicans must resolve their party’s turmoil. “I think that what we need to focus on, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do something about, bridging this divide,” he said.

Fellow Republicans offered a litany of reasons but no single flaw fueling Cantor’s loss.

‘‘People are making all kinds of claims about what happened or didn’t happen in this primary without actually realizing what the facts were on the ground,’’ Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon, said on “Fox News Sunday.’' Walden runs the GOP House campaign committee.


Cantor’s challenger, economics professor Dave Brat, campaigned against Washington as a whole and railed hard against the seven-term incumbent for seeming to be flexible on an immigration overhaul.

At the same time, Cantor did not take his challenger seriously and was not in his district enough for some voters.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2008 and 2012, said pundits were making too much of Cantor’s defeat.