By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD – The defeat Tuesday night of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by Tea Party-backed David Brat in a stunning Virginia GOP primary upset had political observers nationwide speculating on what it all means, and will mean, for upcoming elections — and New Hampshire was no exception.
New Hampshire is not as conservative as Virginia, but the results may well have some of the “establishment” GOP perceived frontrunners – such as Senate candidate Scott Brown, congressional candidate and former Cantor colleague Frank Guinta, and perhaps even candidate for governor Walt Havenstein – a bit nervous. Not to mention several moderate GOP state senators who are being challenged by more conservative candidates, and some state House members.
And it certainly energized some of the challengers, particularly Brown primary competitors Jim Rubens, Bob Smith and Karen Testerman as well as Havenstein GOP foe Andrew Hemingway.
Perhaps most pleased, however, were the Democrats, who portrayed the Cantor loss as evidence that the establishment GOP has been taken over by the Tea Party.
“Tonight’s result in Virginia settles the debate once and for all,” said Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. “The Tea Party has taken control of the Republican Party.”
In New Hampshire state party chair Raymond Buckley said the Virginia results “foreshadows disaster for the NHGOP ticket.”
“Tonight’s results out of Virginia confirm what we all know: today’s GOP is the party of the Koch Brothers and the Tea Party,” he said in a statement. “This foreshadows bad news for Scott Brown and Walt Havenstein, who will have to spend the next few months pandering to the Tea Party in order to advance their primary politics, all the while leaving them poorly positioned for November. As NHGOP candidates up and down the ticket race to the right to avoid similar primary defeats, NH Democrats will continue to focus on policies that strengthen the middle class and make a difference for New Hampshire every day.”