On Saturday, at a Republican event in his home district, Tea Party activists booed and heckled House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va).
On Saturday, Republican voters in Virginia’s 7th District gathered for a convention to choose a new district committee chairman. Conservative blog The Bold Elephant reported that Fred Gruber, who was supported by the tea party, narrowly defeated incumbent chairman and key Cantor ally Linwood Cobb for reelection.
Gruber’s victory was held up by Tea Party supporters as a precursor to the primary race between Cantor and his opponent, Dave Brat. Randolph-Macon College economics professor and Cantor challenger Brat has received support from several conservative organisations. As Politico reported last month, Cantor’s camp has taken the challenge seriously despite Brat’s slim chance of victory.
Speaking at Saturday’s event, Cantor called Brat out over “inaccuracies” in his campaigning.
The Washington Post reports:
Indicators that Cantor’s support among the region’s most active Republicans is eroding could pose a greater threat to him in the upcoming 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.
“As I sit here with my family, I can’t help but notice the inaccuracies in Mr. Brat’s statements.” This, Cantor remarked. 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.”
Bill Bolling, the former Republican lieutenant governor of Virginia who withdrew from the race for governor in 2013 as tea party favourite Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign gained traction, expressed “extreme disappointment” in Cobb’s loss as chairman.
“Clearly, there is a battle taking place for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” he said in a statement, as reported by the Post.