The only Jewish Republican in the U.S. Congress — and the man who wants to be the first Jewish Speaker of the House — is facing an unusual primary challenge to hang on to his seat in Tuesday's Virginia primary.
If Rep. Eric Cantor, 51, the House majority leader, wins on Tuesday he becomes a leading candidate to succeed Speaker John Boehner if the Ohio congressman is defeated either in November by constituents or by colleagues in the GOP caucus who say he isn't conservative enough for their tastes.
Boehner, 64, has said he is planning to run for reelection as Speaker, but hinted he may not serve out a full term.
Boehner and Cantor have been accused by Tea Party supporters and arch-conservatives of being too willing to compromise with Democrats and the Obama administration, and both are fighting back by highlighting the highly partisan credentials.
The seven-term Cantor has tried to position himself to the right of Boehner, even at times appearing to undercut the Speaker to be seen as the Tea Party's man in the House leadership. But that apparently wasn’t conservative enough for those backing his opponent, David Brat, an economics professor who has never held office.
Brat's ads show pictures of the incumbent committing the mortal sin of talking to President Barack Obama as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stood nearby. Cantor is hitting back in his ads by branding his opponent with the damning epithet "liberal college professor."
Cantor is touting his role as an obstructionist who has led efforts to repeal or defund Obamacare, block raising the debt ceiling, oppose the 2009 stimulus package and kill the grand bargain on the deficit in 2011.
Now there’s a record to be proud of and to build on.