New filings showed Majority Leader Eric Cantor spent about $1 million in the seven weeks between April 1 and May 21 against a long-shot primary challenger, Randolph-Macon economics professor David Brat, while Brat continued to hammer Cantor on the immigration issue with a new web ad featuring a photograph of Cantor and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Cantor has spent a total of $1.9 million on his reelection campaign, according to Federal Election Commission filings. That’s a vast amount of money for running against a political neophyte primary challenger with virtually no resources of his own, but Cantor is known for pushing hard in every campaign. In 2012, when he faced a less credible challenger, Cantor had spent $1.5 million up to this point in the campaign.
There are a few key differences this time. In 2012, Cantor did not run negative television advertisements against Floyd Bayne, who he went on to beat by a 80-20 margin.
Also, in 2012, very little of his spending–less than $250,000 out of $1.5 million–was for media related to his re-election campaign. Most of the money was spent on travel and lodging outside the district, events, fundraising, and personnel. In 2014, that ratio is dramatically different. More than half of the $1 million Cantor has spent since April 1 has been on local media expenditures.
The American Chemistry Council, also recently launched a $300,000 independent expenditure for television ads in support of Cantor. It’s rare for the trade association to wade into primary campaigns.
Brat, who has spent a mere $123,000 since January 1, is out with a new web-based ad that features Cantor arm-in-arm with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, a leading financial supporter of amnesty efforts.
The photo is from 2011 when Cantor, GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan visited Facebook’s Palo Alto, CA headquarters for a panel discussion moderated by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. In the panel discussion, which was public, Cantor and his GOP colleagues blasted government regulations that hinder business.
The ad says “There are 20 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job. But Eric Cantor wants to give corporations another 20 million foreign workers to hire instead.”
Cantor has generally gotten good marks from anti-amnesty group NumbersUSA on its voting scorecard over the course of his career, and he has opposed the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill. However, following the 2012 elections, Cantor made support for the principles of the “DREAM Act” part of a major rebranding effort. He also supports the “ENLIST Act,” which would grant amnesty to illegal aliens who came to the U.S. as minors (“DREAMers”) if they enlist in the military.
Cantor also endorsed the House GOP’s immigration “principles” that call for legal status for millions of illegal aliens in the U.S. now, but not citizenship. He supports increasing the number of visas for high-skilled workers.
Although Cantor is spending heavily in the race, and it has garnered national attention after Cantor was booed by Tea Party activists at a contentious Republican party meeting in his district, there’s still little reason to believe Cantor is in serious political danger.
Local political insiders who spoke to Breitbart News said they expect Brat’s vote total will end up somewhere between 35% and 40%. There are no public polls of the race.
Still, with the race drawing national attention, Cantor is taking elaborate steps to ensure victory, including issuing a campaign mailer that paints himself as an anti-amnesty warrior.
Brat predicted victory in an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show Friday. “They’re going to have a shocker come June 10,” Brat he said.