As Cantor falls, Boehner offers sympathy

Greg Nash

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered his sympathies to Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a brief statement late Tuesday after his top lieutenant was defeated in a stunning primary loss.

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“Eric Cantor and I have been through a lot together,” Boehner said in a statement that read like a condolence note. “He’s a good friend and a great leader, and someone I’ve come to rely upon on a daily basis as we make the tough choices that come with governing. My thoughts are with him and Diana and their kids tonight.”

Boehner and Cantor have worked closely together in the last two years after a tense period in the first year of Boehner’s tenure as Speaker.

Cantor was seen as Boehner’s heir apparent, and his loss will shake up the line succession in the House GOP ranks.

In a shocking upset, Cantor was defeated, 56 percent to 44 percent, by conservative David Brat, a Tea Party-aligned college professor with no experience in elected office.

The other top members of the House GOP leadership, Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, also weighed in with praise for Cantor on Tuesday night.

"As many already know, Eric is not just my colleague but one of my closest friends” said McCarthy (R-Calif.), the majority whip. “Few have fought harder or have accomplished more in the pursuit of solutions-based polices to better the lives of Americans than Eric Cantor.”

Along with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Cantor and McCarthy formed the original triumvirate of “Young Guns” that helped sweep Republicans into the House majority in 2010. With Cantor’s defeat, McCarthy is likely to run to succeed him as majority leader in the next Congress.

“Eric's dedication and work ethic were essential to Republicans taking back the House in 2010 and steering the accomplishments of this majority every day since,” McCarthy said. “Every single Member of this conference is indebted to Eric's graciousness and leadership."

McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), the GOP conference chairwoman, called Cantor “a great friend and colleague.”

“It is a true honor serving with him – as a leader for both the people of Virginia and America,” she said. “My thoughts are with Eric, Diana, and their family.”

This post was updated at 12:30 a.m.