Cantor spent around $800,000 and won by a nose, 263 votes, against State Senator Martin in a primary that was practically 50%-50%. Martin barely raised $200,000 in the primary and Eric Cantor also had the support of the Republican establishment with the backing of then Governor Jim Gilmore. And he barely, just barely, won.
The story is similar but slightly different in the 1st District that same year, when Jo Ann Davis defeated Paul Jost for the Republican nomination. Jost dropped almost $1 million into the primary, Davis barely spent $100,000. Jost also had the support of Jim Gilmore. But Davis pulled out a victory and went on to serve in Congress.
I also noted why this would particularly help Feda Kidd Morton as the leading candidate of the social conservatives.
Anyone who has worked in local politics knows the difference that social conservatives can make for the Republican Party. I remember talking to my few liberal friends back in the 1990s when social conservatives were making a strong effort to win at the local level on school boards and boards of supervisors. My liberal friends were shocked that such "extremists" were somehow winning by strong margins.
Social conservatives matter because they are active members of their community. They go to church, they are involved in the PTA, their kids play baseball or soccer. They are the neighbor you depend on when you go away and you need someone to feed the cats or just watch the house. When they run for local office everyone knows them. Liberals aren't active in their communities, they don't volunteer, they don't go to church, they don't have families and kids.
With her experience on the school board, Feda Morton knows what it takes to get conservatives involved at the grassroots level. For all of the talk about the Tea Party movement, there's also a wing of the Republican Party that's just as scared by Obama's proposal to allow gays in the military. Or to pass a huge socialist health care package that will fund abortions with your taxpayer dollars. The 5th District has these hard working conservatives, like Tim Boyer over in Campbell County.
Now others are making comparisons to Jo Ann Davis when talking about Feda's campaign. State Delegate Brenda Pogge compared Feda to the former Congresswoman in her endorsement. And I think there is a compelling case to compare how Jo Ann Davis won in her primary by focusing on positive conservative values while two well funded candidates destroyed each other.
Feda may not have the money that other candidates have. She hasn't been a wealthy real estate developer, she's a simple but dedicated teacher. But that may be the difference in the primary. Having the support of dedicated church goers and community members in this low turnout primary could be enough. I don't expect more than the 40,000 to 50,000 voters that came out in the 1st and 7th during similar circumstances. I think victory could come around 15,000 votes or so. Does Feda have that? We'll soon find out.