National Democrats are considering competing for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s House seat in the unlikely case the Virginia Republican runs as a write-in candidate in November.
On Tuesday evening, Cantor lost his primary to college professor David Brat in one of the most shocking defeats in modern political history.
The nascent Democratic efforts include outreach out to the Democratic nominee, college professor Jack Trammell, according to knowledgeable Democratic sources.
Virginia’s 7th District is solid Republican territory. Cantor won his 2012 general election by 17 points, while Mitt Romney carried the seat by 15 points. But Democrats see a path to victory there if Cantor wages a write-in campaign and splits the Republican vote.
At the same time, local Republicans telegraphed that a Cantor write-in candidacy is unlikely.
“The party will do everything it can to hold onto the seat,” said Jeff Ryer, communications director at the state Senate Republican Caucus. “Everybody will line up behind David Brat right away.”
It is unclear whether a write-in campaign is even a legal option for Cantor.
Sources from both parties offered mixed legal interpretations on Virginia election law for write-in campaigns. Write-in campaigns are permitted on the ballot in Virginia, but the state also has a “sore loser” law that forbids losing primary candidates from appearing on the general election ballot.
“I don’t think anybody knows,” a Virginia Republican operative source said.
Emily Cahn contributed to this report.
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