Just a few miles from his family home, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) felt the wrath of the tea party Saturday, when activists in his congressional district booed and heckled the second-most powerful House Republican.
They also elected one of their own to lead Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Republican Committee, turning their back on Cantor’s choice for a post viewed as crucial by both tea party and establishment wings in determining control of the fractured state GOP.
Cantor appeared with his family at the event, where Republicans had packed the house. He was there in part to address his own reelection prospects. He faces David Brat, a tea-party backed opponent, in a June 10 primary that will be open to all voters in the district.
Any sign that Cantor’s support has slipped among the region’s most active Republicans could spell a tougher challenge during next month’s election. And some of the crowd’s reaction Saturday when Cantor took a shot at Brat made clear that the Republican majority leader has not yet fully shored up support.
“When I sit here and I listen to Mr. Brat speak I hear the inaccuracies — my family’s here.” Cantor said. As he was interrupted by the raucous crowd, Cantor’s anger was evident: “That’s enough — we are a country of free speech, so decency’s also part of this.”
When you grab the tail of the tiger, you can expect to get mauled at some point. It's little wonder that the GOP's energies have gone into calming the tiger with a bucketful of red meat (with the red meat in this case being yet another investigation into Benghazi. You do what you gotta do to keep the Tea Party tiger from getting another go at your throat.