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Eric Cantor 1st House Majority Leader to Lose Renomination Bid in History

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Cantor's loss in the Virginia primary Tuesday is the first failed renomination bid after 54 successful attempts by sitting majority leaders of the nation's lower legislative chamber

ericcantor10.jpgEric Cantor's double-digit loss to David Brat in Virginia's 7th Congressional District Republican primary Tuesday stunned most beltway observers.

While the possible primary woes of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and long-serving Mississippi GOPer Thad Cochran were the focus of much of the 2014 cycle, the theoretical end of Cantor's reign as House Majority Leader through a defeat at the ballot box seemed to only percolate in the media in recent days.

But Cantor's loss was not simply surprising to those not immersed in Virginia's 7th CD race, it was also historic.

A Smart Politics analysis finds that Eric Cantor's defeat Tuesday was the first after 54 consecutive successful renomination bids by sitting U.S. House majority leaders since the creation of the office 115 years ago.

Prior to Cantor, more house majority leaders had died in office (one - Democrat Hale Boggs of Louisiana in 1972) than lost a renomination bid (zero) since the Office of the Majority Leader was officially created in 1899.

That first leader, Republican Sereno Payne of New York, successfully won all six renomination bids as a sitting majority leader through the 1910 election cycle.

Democrats Oscar Underwood of Alabama (1912) and Claude Kitchin of North Carolina (1916, 1918) followed up with three victorious renomination bids collectively.

Republicans Frank Mondell of Wyoming (1920), Nicholas Longworth of Ohio (1924), and John Tilson of Connecticut (1926, 1928, 1930) followed suit as did Democrats Henry Rainey of Illinois (1932), Joseph Byrns of Tennessee (1934), William Bankhead of Alabama (1936), and Sam Rayburn of Texas (1938, 1940).

(Note: Bankhead and Rayburn won their renominations before being elected House Speaker in 1936 and 1940 respectively).

Democrat John McCormack of Massachusetts holds the record for the most renomination victories as a sitting Majority Leader with eight out of eight attempts: in 1942, 1944, 1946, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1958, and 1960.

GOPer Payne of New York won six such bids (1900, 1902, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910) while Democrats Carl Albert of Oklahoma (1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970) and Jim Wright of Texas (1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986) each did so five times.

The aforementioned Tilson, Democrat Dick Gephardt of Missouri (1990, 1992, 1994), and Republican Dick Armey of Texas (1996, 1998, 2000) recorded three victorious renomination bids as sitting House Majority Leaders.

Note: This post has been updated to reflect the count of consecutive renomination bids prior to Cantor's loss in 2014 as 54 in a row, not 55.

Renomination Bids by Sitting U.S. House Majority Leaders, 1900-Present

Majority Leader
State
Party
# Renom Bids
# Won
Cycles
Sereno Payne
NY
Republican
6
6
1900, 1902, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910
Oscar Underwood
AL
Democrat
1
1
1912
Claude Kitchin
NC
Democrat
2
2
1916, 1918
Frank Mondell
WY
Republican
1
1
1920
Nicholas Longworth
OH
Republican
1
1
1924
John Tilson
CT
Republican
3
3
1926, 1928, 1930
Henry Rainey
IL
Democrat
1
1
1932
Joseph Byrns
TN
Democrat
1
1
1934
William Bankhead
AL
Democrat
1
1
1936
Sam Rayburn
TX
Democrat
2
2
1938, 1940
John McCormack
MA
Democrat
8
8
1942, 1944, 1946, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1958, 1960
Charles Halleck
IN
Republican
2
2
1948, 1954
Carl Albert
OK
Democrat
5
5
1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970
Hale Boggs
LA
Democrat
1
1
1972
Tip O'Neill
MA
Democrat
2
2
1974, 1976
Jim Wright
TX
Democrat
5
5
1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986
Tom Foley
WA
Democrat
1
1
1988
Dick Gephardt
MO
Democrat
3
3
1990, 1992, 1994
Dick Armey
TX
Republican
3
3
1996, 1998, 2000
Tom Delay
TX
Republican
1
1
2004
Roy Blunt
MO
Republican
0
0
None
John Boehner
OH
Republican
1
1
2006
Steny Hoyer
MD
Democrat
2
2
2008, 2010
Eric Cantor
VA
Republican
2
1
2012, 2014
Compiled by Smart Politics with information culled from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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1 Comment


  • What boggles my mind: That even when election results are this "historic," "stunning" "surprising" "shocking" "unprecedented" "unbelievable," no one seems to be considering the possibility of electronic election fraud. We demand better IT security and after-the-fact auditing of our grocery-store scanners than our electronic elections technology. Does anyone imagine that VA's elections IT security is better than Target's or eBay's? (It's not.) But at least Target and eBay check afterwards to see whether their IT security worked; like most other states, VA performs no post-election auditing, but instead accepts the voting machines' output as if it was some sort of Greek Oracle, divinely protected from malfunction, mistake, or malicious human manipulation.

    Does anyone imagine that not a single Tea Party sympathizer with basic hacking skills exists anywhere on the planet? That's all it would take. Yet no one is even mentioning the possibly of electronic fraud as we flail around looking for possible explanations for this

    Minnesota has better post-election audit requirements than most states, but no state is up to the IT standards that are routinely observed in every other area of business and government. Ask any random IT security professional; they'll tell you what I just did. Only in elections--no where else--are major, consequential decisions based on unaudited, unexamined computer output. Boggles my mind.

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

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    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

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