Lamar Alexander, Thad Cochran Brace for Falls After Cantor Crumbles
Titans of the Washington GOP establishment are bracing for more potential defeats after grassroots-fueled conservative economics professor Dave Brat crushed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by double digits on Tuesday. The top two GOP establishment icons grassroots conservatives are targeting next are Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
Brat’s campaign against Cantor laser-focused on the majority leader’s support for comprehensive immigration reform, and how amnesty would economically hurt American workers. Brat ran on the message of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), an immigration hawk who’s argued against amnesty and an increase in legal immigration based on the economic effect it would have on struggling American families.
That same issue—immigration—is shaping up as a backbone of the coming Tennessee Senate primary, and has played out in Mississippi too.
Tennessee State Rep. Joe Carr—Alexander’s conservative primary challenger, who is within striking distance of the under-50-percent Alexander—on Tuesday night congratulated Brat, and said he’s coming for Alexander in that state’s August primary. “What we have seen tonight in Virginia shows that no race should be taken for granted and all the money and position in the world doesn't resonate with an electorate that is fed up with a Washington establishment that has abandoned conservative principles,” Carr said.
Carr added praise for last week’s Mississippi grassroots upset against the establishment. A week ago in Mississippi’s GOP primary, state Sen. Chris McDaniel beat Cochran in the popular vote forcing a runoff, which will occur two weeks from today.
“From Virginia to Mississippi, a transformational change is underway that is being led by a true grassroots movement,” Carr said.
In an email to Breitbart News, McDaniel praised Brat’s victory too.
"While Dave Brat's win was largely driven by his principled positions on the issues, it seems clear that Cantor's push for amnesty was clearly one of the prime drivers behind his loss,” McDaniel told Breitbart News. “Dave Brat's historic win tonight in Virginia should serve as a clear message to career politicians across America that no politician who abandons principle is immune from the will of the people. The permanent political class in Washington D.C. may behave and vote as if they are invincible, but today the good conservatives in Virginia reminded them they are not."
Like Cantor, Tennessee’s Alexander is a clear-cut amnesty supporter. Alexander’s amnesty support is crystallized in his vote for the Senate “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill in 2013.
In contrast, Carr’s strident opposition to amnesty has been on display throughout his campaign against Alexander over the past few months and during his tenure in the Tennessee House.
“Sen. Alexander’s support of the Gang of Eight Senate bill doesn’t address the problem with the illegal immigration issue in the United States and likewise in Tennessee,” Carr said in an interview with Breitbart News when he first announced his candidacy.
“The reason I know something about this is I’m the author and architect of every single significant piece of legislation in Tennessee that deals with immigration, whether it’s E-Verify or no sanctuary cities or identity theft and fraud, it doesn’t matter,” Carr added then. “I have authored and passed about half a dozen different bills specifically dealing with the activities of illegals in Tennessee and ensuring that Tennessee is a place of enforcing the law when the federal government doesn’t or won’t do so. We’ve been so successful we’ve never been sued, unlike Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia or Alabama.”
Carr has also signed the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) pledge against amnesty for illegal aliens and a massive increase in legal immigration.
Down in Mississippi, Cochran’s a bit of a similar story when it comes to immigration—though he’s a much quieter supporter of amnesty than Alexander. While Cochran voted against the final passage of the Gang of Eight bill, he has supported a variety of procedural votes that have helped the establishment move immigration bills through the Senate. Cochran is also tied at the hip financially with lobbyists for amnesty including his state’s former Gov. Haley Barbour and his campaign finance chairman and “Big Chicken” businessman Joe Sanderson.
McDaniel has run hard against amnesty—also signing the FAIR pledge, and consistently hammering Cochran’s weak immigration votes. McDaniel has also—in an interview with Breitbart News—questioned why Cochran hasn’t fought against Democrats’ and establishment Republicans’ push to use the military to grant amnesty to illegal aliens via the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Cantor originally heavily pushed granting amnesty via the NDAA, but then backed off after Brat gained traction hitting him on the issue. Cochran is the ranking member of the relevant Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee and hasn’t said anything to fight the establishment push to use the military as an amnesty vehicle.