By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org
LOCUST GROVE, Va. — Dave Brat is challenging Rep. Eric Cantor in a Republican primary — and giving the House majority leader a verbal thrashing on immigration.
“Cantor is following the agenda of the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce — pursuing policies that are good for big business, but come at the exclusion of the American people,” said Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College.
Brat’s upstart bid against the second highest-ranking House Republican may seem quixotic. But it’s part of a growing national movement to oust GOP leaders who fail conservative litmus tests.
Cantor, in Brat’s view, is flunking badly on border security. Indeed, the congressman even applauded President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address outlining a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
On Friday, Cantor said on the House floor that “immigration reform could be an economic boon to this country.”
Brat is having none of it. He calls the imminent GOP cave-in on immigration an exercise in “crony capitalism.”
“It’s incredibly unpopular. It lowers wages, adds to unemployment, and the taxpayer pays the tab for any benefits to folks coming in,” Brat told Watchdog.
“This is not equal treatment under the law. People who are waiting in line (to immigrate) are fuming.”
Brat asserts that Cantor has lost his way on Capitol Hill after seven terms in office. Once considered a reliable conservative, Cantor, along with other Republican leaders, appears more interested in seeking cooperation with Democrats while courting Hispanic votes this election year.
While immigration rates low among voter priorities, the Democrats’ “fix” forges a fearsome duopoly of Big Government and Big Business.
“At every turn, the GOP establishment is favoring the elites,” Brat declares. “A change in immigration policy means amnesty.”
HAMMERING THE MIDDLE CLASS
Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., supports Brat’s assessment. Without citing Cantor by name, he said GOP leaders are falling into a trap laid by Democrats.
“Not only would (amnesty) grant work permits to millions of illegal immigrants at a time of record joblessness, it would double the annual flow of new immigrant workers and provide green cards to more than 30 million permanent residents over the next decade,” Sessions said.
He called Democratic legislation “a hammer blow to the middle class.”
Kenneth Palinkas, president of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, assails lawmakers of both parties who are angling for an immigration deal.
“There is no quality here, only quantity,” Palinkas wrote in a letter to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.
Palinkas said the adjudicators his union represents at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services “are not equipped to handle (increased) workload. We have become a visa clearinghouse for the world, rather than the first line of defense for a secure immigration system.”
As corporatist Republicans go wobbly on the border, Brat said Cantor is violating the party’s “six conservative precepts.”
Cantor’s office didn’t respond to Watchdog’s requests for comment.
Amid the silence, the Washington Times’ Wesley Pruden assails what he called the “Republican suicide strategy on immigration.”
“Republican leaders, such as they are, are under considerable pressure from big-business interests — not the small-business interests that are the natural Republican constituency — to open the gates for another wave of cheap and easily abused labor.”
GRASSROOTS SUPPORT GROWS
Traversing the staunchly Republican 7th Congressional District, which stretches from Chesterfield County south of Richmond to Rappahannock and Page counties on the cusp of Northern Virginia, Brat is counting on grassroots support.
Larry Nordvig, executive director of the Richmond Tea Party, says Brat has his group’s “100 percent” backing.
“Cantor is actively pursuing amnesty,” Nordvig charges. “He participated in the ‘Becoming America Tour’ this summer with radical left politicians. He also had his chief of staff host a ‘summit’ with representatives from rabid amnesty groups, like La Raza and the ACLU.”
“The feeling from the grassroots is, ‘Finally! We have a viable candidate to get rid of Cantor,'” said Nordvig, who brands the congressman “backward on all the issues that matter to true conservatives.”
Kenric Ward is a national correspondent for Watchdog.org and chief of its Virginia Bureau. Contact him at [email protected] or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward