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Former Dem operative says left, right conspired to oust Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., arrives for a fundraiser for Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh on Friday, June 13, 2014. Cantor was defeated by his tea party-backed conservative opponent, David Brat, in Virginia's Republican primary on June 10. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

A former Democratic operative wrote in the Washington Post Friday that he helped create the conditions for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's historic primary loss this week, and even worked with Cantor's enemies on the right to go over strategy.

"After Cantor’s 2010 victory, a group of anti-Cantor activists from both left and right met in person to discuss campaigning against the man who would soon be majority leader," wrote Brian Umana.

The left and the right worked together for a time to kick House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., out of his seat. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

"We met several times over two weeks at coffee shops and pubs in strip malls throughout the Richmond suburbs. At first, we were suspicious that one side was trying manipulate the other, but soon we developed a sense of trust over our shared frustrations with Cantor. (For example, we saw his refusal to acknowledge or debate his opponents as condescending to his constituents.) And we agreed that the 2010 results had proved Cantor’s eventual vulnerability. We weren’t some diabolical, well-organized conspiracy to bring him down, so much as a few scattered—if motivated—people talking about their failure to have done so.

"Then we started discussing tactics. The tea partiers already knew how to mobilize the folks who showed up at tea party meetings: what they needed was a way to find supporters or potential supporters who were unlikely to bother with regular meetings. Stevens and I thought that a more organized attack from the right could help Democrats, too—either by prompting a future three-candidate race (which might give the Democrat a fighting chance) or by inducing a competitive Republican primary challenge that would force Cantor to burn cash protecting up his flank that might otherwise be spent on competitive races elsewhere. (A primary campaign resulting in Cantor’s defeat, of course, hardly crossed our minds. When Parada mentioned it, I recall calling the possibility “fanciful.”) Stevens and I saw no harm in mentioning strategies that tea partiers might use to reach sporadic Republicans or far-right “independents” who were less likely to support Cantor than other Republicans. We shared data-science techniques for voter targeting and for evaluating the relative cost of earning the votes of different types of voters."

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