Eric Cantor's remarkable rise to the GOP heights
11/02/2010 - 23:06
James Besser

Despite some high-profile losses, it's been a great night for the Republicans and a great one for Rep. Eric Cantor.

Cantor's easy reelection victory and the GOP conquest of the House – according to several network projections – mean he's now in line to become Majority Leader, second only to Rep. John Boehner, who is expected to easily win the Speakers position.

It's not seemly to blow one's own horn, but what the heck: in 2001 I interviewed the political newcomer in his Capitol Hill office and I wrote that he had an unusual ambition: to become the first Jewish Speaker of the House.

He's right on track to meet that goal, but Cantor's ascent through the GOP leadership ranks was faster than I imagined. Currently he is Minority Whip, and the GOP victory puts him only one step away from the top slot.

A talented politician? You bet.

“He put together a game plan that has worked very well for him within his own party,” said Kean University political scientist Gilbert Kahn. “He's cultivated the right forces, and he's the heir apparent. It's a remarkable achievement for a Jew in the Republican Party, and it means there will be a major Jewish force in the top congressional leadership.”

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It's a shame that Cantor is the only Jewish Republican who won a race in the House. Many have run. In New York, 4 Jewish Republicans ran and lost for the House. Randy Altschuler was defeated 51-49% against Representative Bishop in the First CD(Eastern Long Island). Asher Taub was easily defeated by Representative Greg Meeks in the Sixth Congressional District (Queens). Susan Kone (R/C) was defeated by Representative Nadler in the Eighth (Manhattan west side). David Ryan Brumberg lost Representative Maloney in the 14th Congressional District Manhattan east side, Roosevelt Island, Astoria). Joel Pollak ran against Representative Jan Schakowsky in Illinois 9 (North Chicago, Skokie, Evansville), one of the most Jewish districts in the country. Eric Wargotz lost his Quixotic bid against Senator Barbara Mikulski in Maryland. I wish the Jewish Week had followed these challengers.