TIME elections

Before Cantor: Seven Other Tea Party Upsets

The defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a little-known Tea Partier isn't the first upset in recent election cycles

It all started four years B.C. Four years before Cantor that is.

Since the Tea Party had its first member elected to public office in 2010 (Dean Murray to the New York State Assembly), the feisty political movement has rocked the GOP with challengers to elected positions long-held by establishment Republicans.

In the latest upset, House Majority Leader and No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor, lost to the Tea Party-backed economics professor, Dave Brat in the Virginia Republican primary on Tuesday.

It’s a result which many are calling one of the most stunning primary election results in congressional history. Cantor was considered a top contender to replace John Boehner as the next House Speaker. What’s more, Cantor was a vocal supporter of child immigration rights, which many thought might help change the debate on immigration.

But Cantor isn’t the only establishment Republican to face a surprising defeat to a Tea Party challenger. See seven of the biggest Tea Party election upsets (in four years of history) below.

1. Ted Yoho

Yoho—whom the Tampa Bay Times retroactively dubbed “The Eric Cantor of Florida”—caused a major upset in 2012, defeating longtime incumbent Congressman Cliff Stearns, who served 12 terms in the house beginning in 1988, in the Republican primary.

Yoho then easily defeated Democrat candidate J.R. Gaillot in the general election, walking away with 64.8 % of the votes.

2. Ted Cruz

In the 2012 Republican primary runoff for senate, Ted Cruz faced off against the establishment GOP candidate and Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst. Dewhurst had the backing of Governor Rick Perry and many other members of the state’s Republican leadership, but in the end this support meant little—Cruz defeated Dewhurst by more than 150,000 votes out of the 1.1 million cast.

Cruz then defeated Democratic challenger Paul Sadler in the general election, becoming the first Hispanic to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.

3. Mike Lee

Senator Robert F. Bennett lost his bid for a fourth term during the 2010 primaries when he received only 27% of the vote by Utah’s delegates and missed a runoff. During the critical Utah GOP convention, Bennett told delegates in a speech, “Don’t take a chance on a newcomer,” but that’s exactly what they did. Taking his place was Mike Lee, an attorney with no prior political experience.

Lee also beat Democratic challenger Sam Granato in the general election, with 62%t of the votes compared to Granato’s 33%.

4. Marco Rubio

The race for the open seat on Florida’s Senate in 2010 was a three-way battle. With the sitting Governor Charlie Crist running as an Independent, facing off against Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio.

Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, won the race with 49% of the vote. Talk of him running for president in 2012 began immediately, and although he expressed no intention to run back then, he’s said it’s something he’ll consider in 2016.

5. Brad Wenstrup

Like Mike Lee, Brad Wenstrup was a political newbie when he won Ohio’s 2nd congressional district in 2012, first defeating Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt in the primaries, and then Democratic challenger William R. Smith in the November general election.

6. Rand Paul

Rand Paul, with his unconventional views on foreign policy and social issues, is a hard pill for the GOP to swallow. But the pill become a lot more cumbersome in 2010, when he beat out establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the Republican primary.

He faced off against Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (a Democrat) in the general election, walking away victorious with 56% of the vote.

7. Tim Scott

In 2010, South Carolina held a 9-candidate Republican primary, including two candidates with fathers who were also involved in Republican politics—Paul Thurmond, son of former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, and Carroll Campbell, son of former South Carolina Governor Carroll A. Campbell. Scott came in first, with 32% of the vote.

After a second vote to secure more than 50% of the vote, Scott went on to defeat Democrat Ben Frasier in the general election, becoming the first African American to be elected to congress from South Carolina in more than 100 years. He was later appointed to the U.S. Senate seat from South Carolina, replacing Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who retired.

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