To the extent that I’ve thought about it much, I’ve always sort of felt that if Jeb Bush wanted to run in 2016 the GOP nomination was his to lose, mostly because the Bushes are prodigious fundraisers and none of the other GOP hopefuls would be able to compete.
But as Josh Kraushaar says at the National Journal, Cantor’s defeat does not bode well for a third Bush president:
Bush’s vulnerabilities in a Republican primary would be remarkably similar to those Cantor faced. Bush is an unapologetic supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, famously calling illegal immigrants’ attempts to come to this country “an act of love.” Last Friday, Cantor stirred the pot before his primary by suggesting he could work with President Obama to allow a path to citizenship for some children of illegal immigrants already in the country.
I don’t know if immigration reform is the reason Cantor lost. As Josh says, Cantor ran a hopelessly shoddy campaign, basically flushing $5 million down the toilet (or, more likely, doling it out to crony consultants). Primary voters are notoriously hard to poll, but who hires a pollster so wildly off-base that they have you up by 34 points?
Cantor also apparently thought that tone-deaf political ads could substitute for presence in the district. The ads only succeeded in raising his opponent’s name recognition without doing any real damage.
But whether or not immigration did Cantor in, it is being perceived as such by conventional DC wisdom-spouters. Which means it will be quickly internalized by every Republican party apparachik with an opinion — who could easily start to write off Bush as Eric Cantor II based on his views on immigration alone.
The thought of another Bush-Clinton race in 2016 is so incestuous and oligarchical it would be difficult to tolerate. If that got a little less likely today I find myself cynically grateful.
Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons License