IT LOOKS like to avoid what pundits were predicting, a full scale House leadership battle, Rep. Kevin McCarthy may be headed for the Republican leadership spot, because the one thing Republicans can agree on is that having this out before the 2014 midterms is a very bad idea.
How Rep. Eric Cantor got into this mess can be seen in the culture of sucking up to big donors, because money in politics matters, as the Supreme Court has reaffirmed.
The irony is, of course, that Dave Brat beat Cantor by spending less money that he did on steak dinners at places like Washington, D.C.’s Bobby Van’s, which has many more locations around the country.
Federal Election Commission records show the Cantor campaign paid for event catering in cities like Boca Raton, Los Angeles, Richmond, Manhattan, Las Vegas, Palm Beach, Fla. Atlanta, Denver, Beverly Hills, Calif., and elsewhere. His campaign finance reports show hotel stays in Georgia, California, Florida, Nevada, New York and other fundraising hotspots in the weeks leading up to his election.
Beyond his steakhouse habit, Cantor’s campaign finance reports show a hodgepodge of catering expenses at other D.C. haunts including Rosa Mexicano, Johnny’s Half Shell and Capitol Hill Club. Outisde the Beltway, reports include payments to Sine Irish Pub in Richmond, Va., barbecue from Shawn’s Smokehouse and Smokin’ Eddies BBQ in Virginia, and catering and lodging at the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows in California.
“Bottom line is, when you’re in a leadership post, you’re expected to do things well beyond your own campaign,” said Democratic fundraiser Michael Fraioli.
Fraioli said it was “a no-brainer” to invest heavily in wooing donors by putting together expensive and often exclusive events. For Cantor and the Republicans, they brought in much more than they cost.
Bobby Van’s has been on our eatery list for a long time, as has BLT Steak, which Cantor and his cronies, who he may be calling for a job, also frequented. It’s just I very rarely eat meat, maybe once a year, if that. But like all good steak houses, there’s always fish offered, too. (Fleming’s has a killer peppered tuna.)
Not even a quick leadership vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy can calm Republican incumbents at what Eric Cantor’s loss means, with populism rising on right and left. Big banks getting away with what no citizen could, the 1% getting richer while the middle class shrinks, Wall Street business as usual, the American voter is sick and tired and they’re not going to take it anymore.
For the Bushes and Christies of the world, that is, Cantor is a warning sign “” an indication that any politician who wants to change the party, who pushes the limits of the base’s patience, must gamble an incredible amount in the process.
Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said Cantor’s defeat reflected roaring hostility toward Washington, and frustration with the trappings of party leadership and all the inducements lawmakers face to turn away from a rigid small-government agenda.
“To me, the lesson for every Republican incumbent out there is: Even when you think there’s a free vote, even when you think that on the farm bill, it’s time to go ahead and spend a trillion; or even when you think it’s OK to blow past the sequester caps, in the end the tally sheet is being kept by a lot of Americans out there,” said Phillips, whose group has already spent tens of millions of dollars during the 2014 campaign.