Virginia vote may doom Obama hopes
A grassroots revolution in Virginia didn’t just topple Republican Party chieftain Eric Cantor.
Tuesday’s political earthquake also likely doomed US President Barack Obama’s hopes of a sole significant second term domestic legislative triumph – immigration reform.
The stunning primary defeat of Cantor, the House Republican Majority leader, by a hero of the radical conservative Tea Party faction ranked as one of the biggest electoral upsets in decades.
A shocked Washington was only beginning to game out the political implications on Wednesday.
Unknown university professor Dave Brat successfully branded Cantor a supporter of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants – despite the fact he only favoured lukewarm reform – energising the tiny, but motivated, conservative primary electorate in Virginia’s 7th district.
Any wavering Republican toying with a vote to offer a path to citizenship to 12 million illegal immigrants will surely now baulk at sticking their neck out after one of the most powerful men in Washington was felled by the issue.
“This shows there is no chance of getting anything done legislatively on the subject through the summer, after which it would be difficult to get anything done with presidential speculation beginning,” said Cesar Vargas of the Dream Action Coalition, a pro-reform group.
Busted hopes of reform are not just bad news for Obama, who needs to get a bill, that has passed the Senate, through the Republican House to flesh out a thin second term.
In recent presidential elections, Republicans have slumped among Hispanic voters – for whom immigration reform is a cause celebre.
Many political professionals believe the party will never recapture the White House without repairing ties to the fast-growing community.