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 CantorOusted GOP lawmaker David Brat named dean at Liberty University business school Trump, GOP seek to shift blame for shutdown to Pelosi Hoyer: Ryan’s legacy a mix of decency and debt 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.”

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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 RoyceBottom Line Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch House passes resolution calling for release of Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar 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 WalbergCongress must take the next steps on federal criminal justice reforms Midterm results shake up national map Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests 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 King Majority of voters see Trump's border proposal as 'good faith' start to negotiations GOP rep in op-ed: ‘Some people affiliated with our party have made racist comments’ Steve King fundraising off controversy surrounding white supremacy comments 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."