Not even twenty-four hours after Eric Cantor’s defeat and the Establishment that made huge coin off his loss is daring conservatives to celebrate David Brat’s defeat or fundraise off of defeating Cantor.
In other words, they made millions in defeat and don’t want the internal opposition to make a penny in victory. I bet today they’d trade the Senate Conservative Fund’s wine room for the hundreds of thousands of dollars Eric Cantor’s consultants wasted.
It is true that many national conservative groups sat on the sidelines publicly with David Brat. It probably helped him, frankly, given that the Chamber of Commerce and others have used conservative funding as a hot spot in which to target their missiles.
But it is not true to say that conservatives did not help Brat behind the scenes. I did not write about him at all on the front page. But one of our writers, who also works with a prominent conservative group, spent a good deal of time in the district helping the grassroots.
But more importantly, and ignored by many today, the outside conservative groups that supposedly played no role have spent the last several years working to build the case against Eric Cantor. Heritage Action, for example, which has not involved itself in primaries, made the conservative case against his voting record. Other conservative groups, like the Family Research Council, have been very vocal in the past few years about what they see as Cantor treating conservatives badly.
Victory always has many fathers, or people trying to claim credit. To be sure, there are a few groups out today beating the drum claiming they had everything to do with Brat’s victory when they did not. But we should not underestimate or fail to appreciate several years worth of conservative groups working to undermine Cantor’s image as a conservative nationally, and as a good congressman from within Virginia.
It helped tremendously and shows conservatives are capable of playing the long game. There may not have been a crowded stage of people and groups patting themselves on the back last night. Hell, Dave Brat even said on TV he didn’t think he could win.
But just because some group was not on the stage does not mean they had not been working pretty hard behind the scenes to undermine Cantor and make him vulnerable. Yes, there are a few groups who want a lot of credit for doing very little. But there are plenty of groups who have been doing good work for a long time and do not deserve to be attacked because of one or two groups overly excited after several months of defeat by the Establishment.