A member of Congress who loses his primary loses his influence. Few have lost more influence in less time than Rep. Eric Cantor, drubbed in May by a relative-unknown, summarily dethroned as House majority leader.
Nevertheless, Republicans in Virginia should call on Gov. Terry McAuliffe to deny Cantor’s request that he call a special election when Cantor quits the House early on August 18th, as he has just announced he would.
“I want to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor told the Times-Dispatch. “That way he will also have seniority, and that will help the interests of my constituents [because] he can be there in that consequential lame-duck session,” he added.
Cantor actually wants the special election to happen on November 4th, the same day as the general election. This means that the winner of the special election (who Cantor naturally assumes will be the Republican Dave Brat) would start immediately, having a leg up on the rest of freshman class of 2015…that is, assuming he also wins the general election race.
Of course, there’s no reason Cantor can’t remain in the saddle, voting his conscience (if anyone does that anymore) through the end of his term.
Late-term special elections are political power maneuvers having nothing to do with the purported effort to ensure that people of the district “have a voice.” After all, isn’t Eric Cantor the voice of his district? With 234 Republicans vs. 199 Democrats, Cantor could walk away now — no doubt to a lucrative legal or lobbyist career already lined up — with no loss to the GOP.
Odds are that Cantor was told that he would call for a special election by the Oz-behind-the-curtain party patriarchs who sustain their own power through such tactics. I’m sure some partisan hack will question my devotion to the party, but my devotion is first to the rule of law, the Constitution, and integrity in public service.
To quote The Dread Pirate Roberts, “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”
If there’s a bright spot in this story, it’s this: Cantor’s coinage of the phrase “a very consequential lame-duck session.”
Apparently a duck’s handicap does not prevent mischief.
Perhaps these should be called “starving vulture” sessions instead.