Eric Cantor for …what?

Politico has a piece today on the rising star of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the lone Jewish Republican in Congress whose ambitions, the newspaper reports, are making some GOP leaders nervous.

When Cantor came to Congress in 2001, I interviewed him and wrote that his goal seemed to become the first Jewish Speaker of the House, and that still seems to be his trajectory, according to Politico.

Cantor is about to publish a “new GOP manifesto he’s co-authoring with two younger members of the House,” the paper reports. “This is classic Cantor: a hyperambitious move to publish and push ideas he thinks will help rebrand the GOP, on his terms — and not necessarily those of his boss, Minority Leader John Boehner.”

That effort at rebranding and a more aggressive conservativism have endeared Cantor to the GOP Young Turks in the House, and increasingly across the party.

There’s still a Web site up touting Cantor as a 2008 vice presidential possibility, and there’s some buzz he may be gunning for that – or higher – in 2012.

I don’t buy it; my guess is that his ambitions remain focused on the House, where he’s on track for a long and interesting career as a top leader.

University of Virginia political scientist and Virginia politics maven Larry Sabato agrees.

“Every now and then, Republicans mention Cantor for some other office, such as governor or senator, but most think Cantor’s future will be totally House-based,” Saboto told me this morning. “To me, that’s the only option that makes much sense. Given his age, he has the very real possibility of being Speaker one day. That post is second in line for the Presidency. Why would you give that up to be a freshman senator or a one-term governor?”

Sabato says he doesn’t “take a presidential or vice presidential candidacy seriously. House members are rarely taken seriously or well positioned for that arena.”

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.