Denial: Cantor’s political establishment friends can’t grasp that his loss was about cronyism

Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is trying to dismiss the notion that soon-to-be former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost on Tuesday night because of his connections to big business:

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noted his group wasn’t involved in the Cantor primary, and said the Chamber has yet to lose in any of the races where it has spent money this year.

“We have lots of allies,” he told Bloomberg Television. “Look, you can try to make this the story of the year, but it’s not going to last very long.”
But Donohue pushed back against the notion that the Tea Party defeated Cantor.

“The Tea Party had nothing to do with this,” he said.

“They weren’t in, they didn’t put any money in, they didn’t have any people there. It was sort of an attractive professor in a very, very conservative district in Virginia. And everybody was surprised.”

While it’s true that national Tea Party and fiscal conservative groups weren’t openly involved in this race — which probably helped keep the race off the national radar — Cantor’s willingness to do basically whatever the Chamber of Commerce and K Street want played a big part in his defeat.

The Chamber of Commerce wanted the Wall Street bailout and Export-Import Bank reauthorization, and a host of other rentseeking measures that are fundamentally inconsistent with limited government and the free market, and Cantor helped them along the way.

What’s local Tea Party groups were backing Dave Brat. That’s probably a point worth mentioning. The movement isn’t driven by national groups, but rather local grassroots activists. It’s a bottom-up movement, not top-down, and local activists boosted Brat, who was severely underfund, to victory over one of the Chamber of Commerce’s best friends on Capitol Hill.

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