In the wake of Tuesday night's stunning upset of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a poorly-funded Tea Party candidate, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie said that the Tea Party is alive and well.
In an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader Tuesday night, Massie, who identifies with the Tea Party and joined in the attempted coup against Speaker of the House John Boehner in 2013, said that Cantor's shocking loss shows that "nobody's invincible."
Cantor lost to economics professor David Brat in Tuesday night's Republican primary in Virginia's 7th Congressional district. The loss astounded the political establishment as Cantor had more than $5 million in the bank to Brat's $200,000, and Cantor was considered by many, including Massie, to be the next Speaker of the House.
Massie said that on a number of issues — Syria, immigration, National Security Agency reform -- Cantor veered from the values of the Tea Party that thrust him into the role of majority leader.
"I think he got out of touch with his constituents," Massie said.
"When you outspend your opponent 20-to-1, you can't blame it on turnout, you can't blame it on anything but the candidate and his voting record."
Massie said that Cantor had also opposed his recent legislation aimed at preventing the Drug Enforcement Agency from using funds to interfere in Kentucky's industrial hemp programs.
"And for good measure, he voted against my hemp amendment," Massie said laughing. "That's probably what happened to him."
Massie said he now expects "all three leadership positions to be in play."
Massie said that Cantor was a big reason the effort to defeat Boehner for speaker failed in January 2013 because there were no takers to step up and challenge Boehner. With Cantor gone, Massie said there will be a stampede of Republicans running for speaker, majority leader and majority whip.
"I think now they're going to be stepping on each other's backs to get to the front of the line," Massie said. "I think it will be like a whole season of Survivor."
The congressman said that Tuesday night reminded him of the night in 2012 when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz won his primary, surprising the GOP establishment.
"It was like they had a hangover," Massie said of the following day.
"And I suspect (Wednesday) will be very similar in Washington, D.C."
"What this shows is nobody's invincible," Massie said. "I think everybody, Tea Party and establishment, feels their own mortality watching this race."
Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com