WASHINGTON — Republican Tea Party forces are rejoicing and the party establishment is somber or altogether silent in the wake of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary defeat at the hands of political neophyte David Brat, an unflinching foe of loosening immigration laws.
Speaker John Boehner praised Cantor as "a good friend and a great leader, and someone I've come to rely upon on a daily basis" in a statement that steered clear of the issue that Brat put at the center of his campaign and has divided the party for years.
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the head of the House GOP campaign committee, said Cantor has "been a steadfast leader for our party, and a great friend and mentor for so many House Republicans."
Neither man took note of Brat's victory. And party Chairman Reince Priebus, who has spoken of the need to broaden the party's appeal, offered no comment after Cantor's loss at the hands of an underfunded challenger who warned the seven-term incumbent would line up for amnesty for immigrants in the country illegally.
Cantor himself conceded defeat, telling downcast supporters, "Obviously we came up short."