Eric Cantor Takes Nothing for Granted

Lone Jewish Republican Fights Hard in Safe District

Running Hard: Eric Cantor represents a safe Republican seat in Virginia. But in a tricky political climate, he is campaigning harder than ever.
nathan guttman
Running Hard: Eric Cantor represents a safe Republican seat in Virginia. But in a tricky political climate, he is campaigning harder than ever.

By Nathan Guttman

Published October 10, 2012, issue of October 12, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

“Congress has always been a whipping boy, we know that,” Cantor told the Forward, but he argued that the real obstructions were mounted by the Democratic majority in the Senate, not the Republicans controlling the House. “So, again, there is a difference and we’re out making sure people understand where we are.” Toni Michelle Travis, a professor of government and politics at George Mason University, believes the politics related to Cantor’s leadership in Washington will have scant impact on voters in his district. “Most people don’t even know what it means to be Majority Leader, except that he is on TV more,” she said.

As thousands of participants prepared to leave Cantor’s Republican Roundup in Richmond, his rival, Wayne Powell, held his own, notably smaller, rally a few miles away. An estimated 100 supporters gathered in a high school gym to hear the Democrat’s views. It was a shoestring operation, with family members helping out and staffers who doubled as stage workers stacking folding chairs as the event ended. “There’s a lot of discontent with Cantor and his positions on fiscal issues,” said Harriet Cobey, who attended Powell’s gathering.

Powell stressed that he is a “Democrat running as a Democrat,” but a recent TV ad put out by his campaign ends with the tagline “Wayne Powell, a Democrat who just may be your kind of Republican.”

“Being a Democrat in these areas is tough,” said David “Mud Cat” Saunders, a political strategist working with the Powell campaign. “You tell someone you’re a Democrat, you might as well tell them you’re a child molester,” he said.

The Appalachian-born political consultant believes that Democrats should come to Southern and rural voters with a “big tent” approach and work to dispel the notion that Democratic candidates are all about “tax and spend.” Eric Cantor, he believes, “has warts” and is not undefeatable. Polling done by the Powell campaign found that Cantor, despite enjoying a double-digit lead, has a low favorability rating and is viewed by voters as too focused on national issues, instead of on the district’s needs. One of these national issues could be Iran’s nuclear threat.

In an interview Powell told the Forward that he opposes a rush to war against Iran, saying that Cantor’s views on the issue are irresponsible. “I don’t like the concept of pre-emptive war,” Powell said, adding that any such war is “got to be something more than just ‘well you know, they may do something’ kind of thing.”

But like Cantor, Powell’s biggest challenge may not be the guy he’s running against. While he goes door to door, trying to convince Virginia voters to turn against Cantor, Powell’s own party seems unconvinced that he is a viable candidate. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which funds Democratic races, chose not to direct any resources to Powell, a clear sign that the party does not believe in his chances to beat Cantor. “I believe I’m a winner but they don’t know me that well,” Powell said in response.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.