Capitol Hill has had over a day to accept the fact that Eric Cantor, who was expected to win his primary in a landslide, lost to a member of the Tea Party who was virtually unknown before Tuesday. The Hill is not taking it well. Democrats aren't sure whether to cheer, Republicans are competing for America's Next Top Majority Leader, and aides are getting drunk to Creed, which is more depressing than anything. Not everyone will experience every stage of post-Cantor depression, but here is how Washington is handling the news.
Getting drunk to Creed
Current and former Cantor staffers hit the Tune Inn on Wednesday before his afternoon press conference to do what every office does after a particularly awful work day. The get-together featured "some heartfelt sobs, a few laughs and lots of Jameson," according to Roll Call. Staffers paid $500 to $1,000 to cover the cost of having the bar to themselves, and spent the night listening to rock music from the 90s and 00s — "Creed, Guns and Roses, Candlebox" — which sounds more depressing than losing your primary.
Making it about themselves
Democrats weren't sure whether to be happy Cantor's out or worried about who'll replace him, but one thing was for sure: everyone was glad this didn't happen to them. "As kids we all had that nightmare on a Saturday morning that we overslept for school, or missed a test," Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley, told The Washington Post. "This is like the mature nightmare of a member of Congress: they wake up and have a dream that they lost their seat. Except that when it really happens and it's more than a nightmare, it's a reality."
Looking to the future
This could also be called the Republican Party's version of making it about yourself. “I will tell you, for me, I carry in me a sadness for Eric Cantor and his family,” Rep. Steve King told Roll Call. (According to Roll Call he then "paused, and sighed.") “Now though," King continued, "we need to look to the future.” And he did:
Wanted: Applicants for Majority Leader in US House who have a record opposing amnesty. Come see me.— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) June 11, 2014
King is basically the recent widower who brings his girlfriend to the funeral, but other Republicans are already jockeying for Cantor's still-warm seat.
Seeking comfort through seersucker
Yesterday's grave and shocking event happened to fall on the same day as Congress's slightly silly Seersucker Thursday. Dana Milbank at The Washington Post noticed that, while possible replacements for Cantor campaigned for votes "nearby, Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.) was trying to arrange a group photo of all lawmakers who were wearing seersucker." But seersucker is an abomination that crosses party lines. Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, also in seersucker, told Roll Call Cantor's loss was "the buzz … it’s been the buzz ever since it happened," and would “chill people’s interest in putting their necks out at all.”
Some people actually, legitimately feel bad for Cantor and liked him. On Wednesday some Republicans took a moment behind closed doors to remember his legacy. “There was a whole lot of standing ovations for everything that (Cantor) said,” Rep. Rob Bishop told Time. “It felt like I was at a mortuary watching a viewing.” Rep. John Boehner cried.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.