Rich Galen

Let's stipulate that I am old. Really old. Not Ralph Hall old (91 years) but pretty old. Old enough so I know exactly what Eric Cantor's staff have been going through since Tuesday night after his stunning defeat at the hands of economics professor Dave Brat.

The last time a sitting member of the House GOP leadership was beaten in a primary was in 1992 when the late Rep. Guy Vander Jagt lost the primary for his Western Michigan seat to the marketing director of a furniture company, Pete Hoekstra.

Vander Jagt had been the long-time chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee - the election arm of the GOP members of the U.S. House.

I was Guy Vander Jagt's campaign manager. I managed to manage him right into retirement.

We didn't not take the race seriously, but we didn't take itseriously. I don't remember now how much we spent on TV, billboards, mailings and phone calls, but it was enough to make it worthwhile having me sit in Holland, Michigan for a couple of months to oversee it.

On election night the first returns came in from a place called Cadillac, Michigan which happened to have been Vander Jagt's home town. We won it by something on the order of 12 votes.

We should have won it by something on the order of 12-1

I found Vander Jagt's chief of staff (in those days the title was "administrative assistant") in the ballroom of the hotel where we were holding the victory party and told him we were going to lose, and probably lose big.

He said we needed to tell the Congressman. We found him talking to celebrants and suggested we move to a side room.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at