Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) has long been one of the leading voices in Congress against any immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He even lost out on a subcommittee chairmanship because of his perceived hostility to immigrants, especially those who came to this country illegally. In early 2013, many pundits predicted King and his allies would not be able to stop a bill like the one that passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support, because of the Republican Party’s urgent need to improve its standing with Latino voters. But the anti-reform Republicans won promises from House leaders not to bring the Senate bill up for a vote on the House floor. (It would surely have passed with a few dozen Republicans joining most of the Democratic caucus.)
Every few months, pro-reform forces mount a new push to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and King mobilizes opposition. I think he can rest easy now that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor just lost his Republican primary to a little-known tea party challenger in Virginia’s seventh Congressional district. While immigration wasn’t the only issue brought up during the campaign, it was a salient issue in the primary.
[Challenger David] Brat ran hard against immigration reform, and the issue dominated conservative talk radio in recent days as the Obama administration’s request of funds to cope with an influx of recently detained young illegal immigrants from Central America.
Cantor sought to neutralize the issue, running hard negative television attacking Brat as a “liberal professor” and sending direct mail pieces saying he fought President Obama on “amnesty.”
Regardless of what Cantor said in campaign mailers, beltway insiders considered him a pro-immigration reform Republican.
Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.
P.S. – During my childhood, there were several Jewish Republicans in Congress. Cantor was the last remaining after Senator Arlen Specter switched parties in 2009. Don’t hold your breath waiting for another one to be elected.
UPDATE: King commented on Twitter, “Earthshaking primary results in Virginia tonight. Resounding rejection of #Amnesty and support for Rule of Law. Personal regrets to Eric.”
SECOND UPDATE: King posted on June 11, “Wanted: Applicants for Majority Leader in US House who have a record opposing amnesty. Come see me.”
THIRD UPDATE: Senator Tom Harkin believes Cantor was defeated because he “lost touch with his district.” He pointed out that Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina survived his GOP primary this week, despite openly supporting immigration reform. But Graham had six opponents splintering the protest votes, not one challenger making a coherent case against him.Continue Reading...