Cantor defeat means more public affairs action in individual states

PRWeek asked DC-based experts to weigh in on how House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's defeat will affect the public affairs landscape.

WASHINGTON: Less than 24 hours after a crushing defeat to a Tea Party candidate, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he will step down from the Republican leadership on July 31.

The Virginia Republican reportedly had a $5.5 million election-cycle haul, literally millions more than challenger Dave Brat’s $200,000, adding to the reasons why Tuesday’s primary was one of the most stunning elections in recent memory.

PRWeek asked DC-based experts to weigh in on how Cantor’s defeat will affect the public affairs landscape.

Bill Black, chair of the global public affairs practice at FleishmanHillard:
If it’s possible for Washington to be even more gridlocked, this will do it. And the stakes just got even higher for the Mississippi Senate race. If Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) loses, the Tea Party, which has been declared dead, will be fully resurrected in this election year.

In terms of the public affairs landscape, it pushes policymaking to the executive branch and the states. President Barack Obama will be even more determined to set policy through regulation. The recent EPA regulations on carbon are just the beginning. And advocacy groups will steer clear of Congress and seek progress on their issues in the state capitols.

Margaret Dunning, managing partner at Widmeyer, a Finn Partners Company:
You would think an earthquake had occurred in Washington. While Cantor is the first majority leader to lose a primary, life will go on and candidates will pay more attention to their own races and constituent needs before jetting across the country to help others. It would be lovely if we could focus as much attention on issues like gun control as we’re [looking at] Cantor’s defeat.

Jim Papa, SVP and MD at Global Strategy Group:
There isn’t an elected leader in Washington who isn’t thinking about Cantor’s loss and what it means for their individual policy and political priorities. Public affairs campaigns are designed to shape decision-making, and when decision-makers change, or when external events cause decision-makers to recalibrate their thinking, public affairs strategies need to account for that.

Here are some predictions on what happens next after Cantor’s defeat and resignation.

Not to mention a fair helping of snark.

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