The No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House is a goner.
And amid the ashes of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking defeat Tuesday night, comprehensive immigration reform smolders.
This is not to say that immigration reform would have passed this year if the Virginia Republican had not been the first House majority leader to lose since 1899. Immigration reform was already endangered in 2014.
But Cantor’s defeat to tea partyer David Brat was so intertwined with immigration — “amnesty” and “illegal aliens” — that the few fence-sitters in the GOP-led House are going to flock back to the politically right side of the divide.
Regardless of polls showing comprehensive immigration reform is popular nationwide and even in Cantor’s district, Brat’s win and Cantor’s loss is now a powerful symbol, a rallying cry.
That matters in politics.
“Is it absolutely devastating? I don’t know,” said U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican who for years has tried to get his party to tackle the issue.