The End Of Eric

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • 'WITH GREAT HUMILITY': After unexpectedly losing his Republican congressional primary, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will step down as majority leader, he announced at a Capitol Hill news conference yesterday, ABC's JEFF ZELENY and JOHN PARKINSON report. "It is with great humility that I do so," Cantor said, noting that he would serve in his leadership post until July 31. "There's a balance between holding a leadership position and serving constituents at home." An election to replace Cantor as majority leader will take place June 19, several sources told ABC News, giving Republicans one week to jockey for position. Cantor threw his support behind GOP Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., should he choose to pursue the majority leader position. Several other candidates, including Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, are also expected to compete for the job. Cantor also indicated he has no plans to mount a write-in campaign in his district, but he will serve out his congressional term. "I will not be on the ballot in November," he said.
  • BOEHNER'S TEARS: Cantor, 51, officially told his colleagues about his plan to step down during a meeting of the House GOP's rank-and-file yesterday afternoon. It was an emotional scene inside, lawmakers and aides told ABC News, with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tearing up once again. Boehner told fellow lawmakers, "This is a speech I never expected to give." "Eric, we salute you, and we thank you, and your amazing staff as well," Boehner said, according to sources. "We're losing a leader, but you'll never stop being our colleague and our friend."
  • 2 REPUBLICAN RACES, 2 DIFFERENT OUTCOMES: No one saw House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's loss coming, least of all the Virginia Republican and his team. In fact, ahead of Tuesday night, most of the talk among the political chattering class was about whether South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham would be able to clear the 50 percent mark - enough to avoid a runoff - in his Republican Senate primary. As it turned out, Graham easily topped 50 percent and it was Cantor who fell to Tea Party newcomer Dave Brat in a shocking upset. Everyone - pundits, political consultants and journalists alike - seems to have an opinion about why Cantor went down in flames while Graham cruised to victory. We decided to curate some of the prevailing theories about how two candidates - both Southern Republicans, both big names on Capitol Hill, both running in a primary on the same night - could meet two totally different fates. Take a look:


ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The how of Eric Cantor's historic and stunning fall will be debated for weeks, months, even years, but in the short term we are likely to see some changes we can immediately feel. From a halt to any kind of debate around immigration reform to a vastly different primary season than what we have been seeing over the last several weeks. Yes, only two incumbents have gone down. Besides Cantor, it was 91-year-old Texas Congressman Ralph Hall, but every incumbent should be looking over their shoulder now and throwing those internal polls out the window. Cantor's loss shows being in the district frequently isn't enough, you do have to shake those hands, listen to people's concerns directly, and connect or the impossible can happen. He also ran negative ads against his opponent, which raised the profile of the complete unknown enough to actually help Dave Brat. Another message to those in a similar situation: positive ads touting what you've done for the district and your toughness, much like what Sen. Lindsey Graham did, may be more the way to go. Of course, Cantor did that as well and it didn't help.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: It's not quite the House of Cards, but the House Republican leadership fight playing out over the next week is starting to sound like a storyline ripped straight from Frank Underwood's Washington. With Eric Cantor pushed out, the battle for Majority Leader is the biggest game in town. Kevin McCarthy is hoping to cash in on the chits he earned as the top GOP recruiter in the 2010 Republican wave. He believes he has enough votes to win when the House holds its leadership elections next Thursday. He might be right. It's looking less likely that Jeb Hensarling mounts a tough challenge - or a challenge at all - which could pave the way to a McCarthy victory. Pete Sessions is also running, but he faces an uphill climb. Don't forget the lessons from the 2005 leadership race: Second ballots matter. Ask Roy Blunt, who was 10 votes away from becoming majority leader succeeding Tom DeLay, until a guy named John Boehner came along and beat him. It was a Capitol Hill shocker. Will there be another?

ABC's RICK KLEIN: In picking through the primary upset of this (and, well, any) year, the range of forces that contributed to Eric Cantor's stunning defeat is impressive and also instructive. There's the tea party, of course, and immigration-reform pushes that stirred up passions. But there's also GOP-led redistricting efforts (Cantor's district got redder after 2010), the "rebranding" push led by Cantor himself, and an extremely heavy dose of conservative talk radio tossed into the volatile mix. The broad lesson that applies to Cantor and his colleagues, in both parties: Don't hope to control that which you sought to coopt.

GET ME REWRITE: WHITE HOUSE TALKING POINTS ON IRAQ & AL QAEDA. Shortly after Mosul fell to Al Qaeda militants earlier this week, the White House repeated some familiar talking points claiming the decimation if "core Al Qaeda" and the end the Iraq war as the president's top foreign policy accomplishments, according to ABC's JONATHAN KARL. Here's what incoming White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday when asked to name the top accomplishments of Hillary Clinton's term as President Obama's Secretary of State: "In terms of important foreign policy accomplishments for which Secretary Clinton can rightly claim her share of the credit, I would put ending the war in Iraq, responsibly winding down the war in Afghanistan, and decimating and destroying core al Qaeda - that those are a handful of accomplishments that certainly this President and this Commander-in-Chief are proud of, but it's one that - those are the kinds of accomplishments that Secretary Clinton can justifiably be proud of as well." American troops are out if Iraq, of course, but with the flag if al Qaeda flying over major Iraqi cities, it may be time to adjust talking points suggesting the war in Iraq is over and that al Qaeda - core of otherwise - has been decimated.


OBAMA CELEBRATES TECHNICAL HIGH GRADS: 'SKILLS THAT WILL MAKE AMERICA STRONGER'. President Obama yesterday celebrated a fresh crop of high school graduates who can cook, construct, code a computer and cut hair, ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes. At the Worcester Technical High School commencement ceremony in Massachusetts, Obama called the class of 2014 a success story of U.S. education, and of his vision for schools that train young people for 21st century careers. "You have set yourselves apart. This high school has set itself apart," Obama said. "Over the past four years, some of you have learned how to take apart an engine and put it back together again. Some of you have learned how to run a restaurant or build a house or fix a computer. And all of you are graduating today not just with a great education but with the skills that will let you start your careers, and skills that will make America stronger." Ninety-two percent of Worcester Tech students score as advanced or proficient in English; 84 percent are advanced or proficient in math, according to the White House. The school has a 95 percent graduation rate.

SHAKEUP IN WENDY DAVIS CAMPAIGN. Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is replacing her well-known campaign manager, Karin Johanson, with Texas state Rep. Chris Turner, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. "After building one of the most competitive campaign organizations Texas has seen in decades, Karin Johanson has let me know that she believes it's time to hand off the reins of the campaign management for our final push toward Election Day," Davis said in a statement Wednesday. Johanson, who managed Sen. Tammy Baldwin's 2012 campaign in Wisconsin, joined the Davis campaign in October and was heralded as a star Democratic operative who could help boost Davis' operation. Johanson formerly served as the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and worked as a political strategist for EMILY's List. Her replacement, Turner, is relatively unknown outside Texas circles. He's served in the Texas legislature since 2008 and previously ran successful campaigns for Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas. The campaign shakeup comes as Davis has struggled to rise from her underdog status in her race against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Davis gained national attention last year when she conducted an 11-hour filibuster against a law that would have created new abortion restrictions in the state of Texas.

OPRAH-ENDORSED DEMOCRAT COMES IN NEARLY LAST IN VIRGINIA RACE. Even Oprah's star power couldn't save one Virginia Congressional candidate from a nearly-dead last finish in her race on Tuesday, ABC's CALEB JACKSON and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE report. Lavern Chatman, a Democrat and former president of the Northern Virginia Urban League, received a huge endorsement from Oprah Winfrey but she still placed second to last in the Democratic primary for Virginia's 8th Congressional district, which includes the Washington, DC suburbs. Her performance proves yet again that celebrity is not always the key to success when it comes to political elections. Don Beyer, the former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and ambassador to Switzerland in the Obama Administration, defeated Chatman and five other opponents, in the race to replace the retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, according to the Associated Press. The district is heavily Democratic and Beyer is favored to win the general election. Chatman and Winfrey became pals in 2007 when Oprah's partner, Steadman Graham, and Chatman's husband, Robert Brown, introduced the two. They've been friends ever since.

RAHM EMANUEL RIBS HILLARY CLINTON ON 'DEAD BROKE' COMMENT: 'REALLY?' Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel seemed a bit skeptical of Hillary Clinton's comments about her and her husband's post-White House financial situation, according to ABC's LIZ KREUTZ. During an interview in Chicago yesterday for her book "Hard Choices," Emanuel asked Clinton directly about her recent remarks to ABC News. "Dead broke," Emanuel said. "Really?" To some audience laughter at the event for Chicago Ideas Week, Clinton admitted her word choice was not ideal. "That may have not been the most artful way of saying that Bill and I have gone through a lot of different phases in our lives," she told Emanuel, a longtime friend and former adviser to President Clinton. "That was then, this is now. Obviously, we are very fortunate. We've been given great opportunities." Clinton then went on to describe how she and her husband both had good educations with great teachers. "We've been blessed," she said. "We have gone through ups and downs like a lot of people. But, clearly, we're very grateful for the opportunities we've had."


@GeorgeHWBush: It's a wonderful day in Maine - in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump.

@David_Dobbs: Short piece from @dexterfilkins @newyorker quickly gives essential context to Iraq's convulsion. +: Worst to come.

@pewresearch: Good resource for getting a discussion going on our polarization survey: Key Shareable Findings

@abc7kristensze: audience gasped when texas Gov Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alocholism in #SF speech. #LGBT #gay

?@mattbai: More on Cantor (and from my Dave Brat interview). … via @YahooNews