by Jenna Portnoy and Robert Costa
May 13, 2014
This week, Cantor’s opponent in the June 10 primary — a tea party activist named David Brat — is gaining national attention as a potential threat to Cantor’s hold on his solidly Republican, suburban Richmond district. Brat has won support from some big-name conservatives and has tapped into discontent across Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. On Wednesday, Brat planned to travel to Washington to meet with leading conservative agitators, a sign that his effort is starting to be taken seriously at the national level.
The intraparty drama is the latest reflection of the deepening chasm in the Republican Party across Virginia and the nation. And it is all the more remarkable because it is happening to a man widely seen as the likely next speaker of the House.
Most Republicans continue to believe Cantor is safe; he won a primary challenge two years ago with nearly 80 percent of the vote. But the prospect of a competitive and bruising challenge to the second-ranking Republican in Congress is embarrassing to Cantor — and is rattling GOP leaders at a time when the party is trying to unify its divided ranks.