April 21, 2024
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Cantor Sings His Final Tune

The campaign for the June 10, 2014 GOP primary election in Virginia’s 7th Con­gressional District was by all accounts a sleeper. David Brat, a college eco­nomics professor and a virtually unknown po­litical novice, was challenging the #2 Republi­can in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Cantor, a powerful seven-term lawmaker— who some speculated had designs on one day becoming Speaker of the House—was osten­sibly a shoo-in for re-election. The pre-Primary Day polls had him leading his opponent by a considerable margin. The political pundits es­sentially ignored the race, which they found to be devoid of any excitement. For Eric Can­tor, it was not a question if he was going to win the race; it was merely a function of count­ing down the days until Primary Day, when he could finally formalize his inevitable victory.

And then the voters spoke. When the polls closed and the dust settled, Eric Cantor had suf­fered a stinging defeat at the hands of his Tea Party-backed opponent, thereby becoming the first Majority Leader in history to be ousted in a primary. The final tally had Brat besting Cantor by 55% to 44%.

In political circles and in Washington, DC, Eric Cantor’s incomprehensible loss was the equivalent of a political earth­quake that sent tremors through the po­litical establishment. The New York Times described it as “one of the most stunning primary election upsets in congressional history.”

Cantor, who was a star in the Republican Party, raised a whopping $5.4 million for his campaign, as opposed to Brat, who raised a paltry $200,000. With his campaign war chest overflowing, Cantor outspent his opponent by more than 40 to 1. However, at the end of the day, Cantor came up short.

While I do not necessarily agree with Eric Cantor’s political ideology, I nonethe­less am troubled by his loss, because when Eric Cantor resigns from the House on Au­gust 18, the American Jewish community and the State of Israel will lose one of the staunchest allies that we have in Congress.

Cantor been the sole Jewish Republican in Congress for the past five years, he is also the highest ranking Jewish lawmaker in congres­sional history. Yet, merely being Jewish is not the reason I respect Eric Cantor. I admire him because he proudly wore his Jewish identi­ty on his sleeve at all times. Eric Cantor made a conscious decision not to hide from his “Jew­ishness,” but to wholeheartedly embrace it at every turn.

I also greatly appreci­ate the fact that he con­stantly exhibited a keen un­derstanding of Israel and its unique security needs, and a willingness to go to the mat for the Jewish State whenev­er it was necessary to do so.

Just several weeks ago, even after his defeat, as he prepared to relinquish his post as Majority Leader, Can­tor issued a strong defense of Israel as it defended itself against a barrage of rocket attacks from Hamas during Operation Protective Edge.

“Israel is one of our nation’s strongest democratic allies and its security is directly tied to our own,” said Cantor. “Hamas’ out­rageous and unprovoked war against Israel must end. Until Hamas accepts the Quartet principles, abandoning violence and rec­ognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, there will not be peace.

“…There is no justification for Hamas’ violent assault on Israel, which withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005,” continued Cantor. “Since then, Hamas and Palestin­ian Islamic Jihad have lobbed thousands of rockets into Israel and Hamas staged a coup against the Palestinian Authority, as­suming complete control over Gaza and turning it into a den of terrorism.”

Regardless of whether you were a Demo­crat, Republican, Independent or Conservative, when it came to the safety and security of the State of Israel, Eric Cantor was always interest­ed in hearing what you had to say. He had no compunction about stepping up to the micro­phone to deliver an impassioned defense of Is­rael and to declare that Israel’s security needs are America’s security needs, and he often backed up his words with action.

Eric Cantor’s electoral loss is not just a personal one; it is a communal one. With his departure from Congress, the Jewish community will lose one of our own; we also will lose one of the best friends that we have in Congress. As Cantor sings his fi­nal tune and the curtain comes down on his Congressional tenure, unfortunately for the Jewish community and the State of Is­rael, there will be no encore performance.

“Mr. Speaker, I close by once again thanking my colleagues for their service, I thank them for their friendship and warmth,” said an emotional Eric Cantor on July 31, as he closed what was his final speech on the floor of the House as Major­ity Leader.

“And with that, I yield back.”

N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake. blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.Jew­ishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @ troodler

By N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.

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