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The Surprise That Shouldn't Have Happened

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Though Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s epic defeat was a shock to the country, when you think about it, those of us within the Tea Party movement should not have been surprised. We know how frustrated and disappointed voters across America have been with our government. We have all endured a jobless recovery and Virginians (just like the rest of America) are trying to figure out how to put food on the table, gas in their tank, and how to pay for this "affordable" healthcare system that Barack Obama crammed down our throats without our consent.


Yet, instead of focusing on these issues and standing up to the Obama administration, Cantor was trying to cut a deal with them on immigration reform. This is how Republican leaders deal with a lawless president – by supporting his plans to reward millions of law breakers. It’s insane. And thankfully conservatives in Virginia knew it.

Tuesday’s vote restored my faith in the Tea Party movement. It also strengthened my faith in this country and the wisdom of its people.

While many pundits are placing the blame for Cantor’s defeat on his push for Immigration reform, that was only part of the story. Voters were also fed up with his support of massive spending bills, tax increases and his efforts to end the sequester. In short, Cantor gave voters more than enough motivation for voters to look for another option.

The Cantor defeat ranks as one of the largest single Tea Party victories to date, following wins for Ben Sasse In Nebraska, Joni Ernst in Iowa, and Dan Patrick in Texas. But I’m confident there are many more to come. We are winning across the country. Even those incumbents who managed to fend off Tea Party challengers are running scared and, more importantly, running to the right to hold onto the jobs. Just like a snowball, we are continuing to grow with each primary. The next victory may come very quickly, with Chris McDaniel currently poised to unseat longtime Republican incumbent Thad Cochran.


As the Cantor vote demonstrated, the Tea Party movement is a true grassroots effort. Unlike the establishment’s candidates, our support does not come mainly from large donors or big business. More than half of Cantor’s $4.7 million war chest came from political action committees and just 2 percent came from small donors. By contrast, Dave Brat's $206,000 came almost completely from individuals –- with around 30 percent being given in donations of $200 or less. The real people of the 7th congressional district – who run businesses and pay taxes and worry about their kids’ futures --- were obviously invested in David Brat. That’s the reason Brat won by 12 points even though Cantor and his Washington buddies outspent him 25 to one.

I can’t help but laugh to think about the quandary the media is in now, All election season long, their smug headlines prophesying the defeat of the tea party have practically been written before votes are cast. They were almost gleeful in announcing that Cantor would be another establishment figure to stave off a tea party challenge.

Yet, we must remind them time and time again, that we are a movement, not a party. And a true movement outlasts any single election cycle, and any single setback. Do you remember the other movement which began around the same time at the modern day Tea Party? It was called the Occupy movement. And while I hope their disappearance means they went home, took a bath and got a job, truth is, they are gone from the conversation. You never hear of them pushing legislation or promoting candidates who are faithful to their ideals. But do the liberal journalists praying for the defeat of the Tea Party even mention the very real demise of the Occupy movement? Of course not.


The same can be said of the GOP. Rather than conspiring in back rooms to defeat the tea party movement, they might try to learn some lessons from it. They might try to understand the real frustrations that conservatives are feeling and change their own course. If they don’t, they are going to be in for more unpleasant surprises. Many, many more.

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