Specter of Cantor loss haunts Republicans

Specter of Cantor loss haunts Republicans
© Greg Nash

In Washington, “Cantor” has become a verb.

Former House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorTrump taps pollster to push back on surveys showing Biden with double-digit lead Bottom Line The Democrats' strategy conundrum: a 'movement' or a coalition? MORE's (R-Va.) stunning upset primary loss in June to economics professor Dave Brat is still spooking Republicans, just weeks before the midterm elections.

Staffers have now coined the term “Cantored”, meaning to lose in what is otherwise considered to be a safe, Republican-controlled seat. 

"Anyone who is in leadership or chairs a committee knows now that getting Cantored is a real possibility," said one senior staffer of a House Republican committee chairman who is up for reelection. 

"The fear of getting Cantored reinvigorated campaigns across the country," said another senior staffer for a GOP House member who is up for reelection. "That's certainly been the case in my office, where the notion of losing what the polls consider a very safe seat has made our team double-down on campaigning efforts.”


Most polls indicate that Republicans will maintain control of the House, and they seem poised to take back control of the Senate. 

But Cantor's upset loss in June still reverberates in Washington.

Now even established names like Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceGil Cisneros to face Young Kim in rematch of 2018 House race in California The most expensive congressional races of the last decade Mystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia MORE (R-Calif.), who chairs the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, are revamping their political campaigns.

Royce, first elected to Congress in 1992, is expected to win against Democratic challenger Peter Anderson, a retired software engineer, in a landslide. 

Royce has raised $2.5 million this campaign cycle. Anderson’s take is a mere $3,124, according to a review of Federal Election Commission filings by the Center for Responsive Politics, from where the other estimates in this story are also taken.

Anderson even told the hometown paper, The Orange County Register, that he doesn't see himself as much more than a placeholder candidate.

Royce sees things differently. His supporters are sending fliers and making calls to supporters in the weeks leading up to Election Day. And, despite Royce’s high profile in Washington, he's touting his focus on his home district back in Southern California.

"I'm home whenever Congress isn't in session," Royce said. 

Rep. Tim WalbergTimothy (Tim) Lee WalbergThe health care crisis no one is talking about Overnight Defense: Pentagon policy chief resigns at Trump's request | Trump wishes official 'well in his future endeavors' | Armed Services chair warns against Africa drawdown after trip GOP chairman after Africa trip: US military drawdown would have 'real and lasting negative consequences' MORE (R-Mich.), who was first elected in 2010, has raised about $1.3 million this campaign cycle. That's a good chunk of change more than his Democratic challenger, former state Rep. Pam Byrnes, who has raised $927,000. 

The district is so red that pollsters haven't even surveyed it. Walberg doesn’t consider that any guarantee. 

"We are always full speed ahead sharing his message, knocking on doors and Tim is meeting with as many citizens as possible," said his campaign manager, Stephen Rajzer.

Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingColorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Bottom line House GOP leaders condemn candidate who said black people should be 'proud' of Confederate statues MORE (R-Iowa) looks safe and has said he is hoping to drive up turnout for other Republicans in the Hawkeye state. A Loras College poll released in September gave him an 11-point lead over his Democratic challenger, Jim Mowrer. 

Still, King is eager not to fall victim to complacency.

"Even though we have a double-digit lead in the polls," King said, "we're certainly not slowing down. We look forward to celebrating a victory with the rest of the Iowa ticket on Nov. 4."