Richmond, Va. — Dozens of yard signs supporting Eric Cantor’s run for re-election lined the road leading to the Virginia Republican Roundup election rally. Cantor, who hosted the event — a combination political gathering and country fair — is considered one of the strongest forces helping struggling Republican candidates throughout the country.
Yet here was Cantor making a rare foray into retail politics with his own constituents.
This year, Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives, is spending a bit more time on his own campaign.
Facing a spirited Democratic challenger and an overall low approval rating for Congress and congressional Republicans, Cantor, the House Majority Leader and six-term congressman, even agreed to debate his rival, a rare move in itself for a congressional leader.
“We’ve always taken races seriously,” Cantor told the Forward, adding he is sure his district remains strongly conservative.
Experts and polling data support Cantor’s claim. Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of the capital, Richmond, and its suburbs, is solidly Republican and has become even more so after this year’s redistricting.
This support was apparent at the October 6 Republican Roundup, which was attended by 6,000 of the area’s GOP supporters. Families, sending off their children to jump on the inflatable moon bounce or to stand in line for a bean bag toss and face painting, waited to greet Cantor and his fellow Virginia candidate former governor George Allen, who is now running for the Senate.
“I’m a conservative Republican and formerly a big liberal,” stated Adrienne Haine, who moved to Richmond four decades ago from Brooklyn. A strong believer now in small government, Haine admitted she does not know of many other fellow Jewish voters who support Cantor. “The lack of support he gets from the Jewish community is a disgrace,” said Haine, proudly showing off the Cantor and Romney stickers on her shirt.
Ever since his first run for Congress in 2000, Cantor has received strong backing from his district. His election majorities have ranged from 59% in 2010 to a high of 75% in 2004.