The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 12, 2014

Barletta: Illegals stance costs Cantor

— WASHINGTON — There are a number of reasons why a powerful incumbent like Eric Cantor can lose in a primary election, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta said Wednesday, one day after the No. 2-ranking member of the U.S. House was ousted from office by a political newcomer.

For one, Virginia doesn’t register voters by party, meaning Democrats can vote in a Republican primary, said Barletta, R-11, of Hazleton.

And “People are frustrated with what’s going on in Washington, and one way to express that is in the voting booth,” he said. “Without knowing who exactly voted in Virginia, and why, there’s only speculation as to the reasons.”

Cantor, 51, the House Majority Leader who was being groomed as House Speaker should Ohio Republican John Boehner retire, lost Tuesday night to Tea Party favorite David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College.

Accused by Tea Party critics of being too accommodating on immigration and other issues, and criticized by Democrats for being inflexible, Cantor said he had struck the right balance.

“But clearly,” Barletta said, “amnesty for illegal immigrants was an issue in that race, and it goes well beyond just one House district in Virginia. All you have to do is look at the chaotic humanitarian crisis at our southern border, where thousands of unaccompanied children have turned up because they’ve been led to believe that our government has put out the welcome mat.

“Until the president and Congress agree to secure the borders first, and stop highlighting the promise of amnesty, people will continue to flock here because they believe they won’t have to follow the law.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-10, Cogan Station, said that every Republican member “worked with Mr. Cantor on various issues. He was our majority leader. He is also a good man and I enjoyed working with him. However, the people of his district spoke.”

Cantor, 51, sounded like anything but a man ready to retire from politics, saying he will serve out his term and be active this fall for Republican candidates.

“What divides Republicans pales in comparison to what divides us as conservatives from the left and their Democratic” allies, he said.

But one Republican said he feared the effects of Cantor’s defeat could be debilitating for the party and the government.

The resignation would mark a swift end to a quick rise to power for Cantor, who was elected to Congress in 2000, was appointed to the leadership two years later, and then rose steadily to become the second-most powerful Republican in the House.

 The Associated Press and Washington Post contributed to this report.

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