Eric Cantor was big contributor to California lawmakers, candidates

The Sacramento BeeJune 11, 2014 

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, felled in a shocking upset by tea party challenger David Brat on Tuesday, helped channel at least $570,000 to California candidates over the last decade including Valley congressmen David Valadao, Jeff Denham and Tom McClintock.

Cantor is considered one of the Republican Party's most skilled fundraisers, using his leadership PAC to support colleagues and challengers running across the country, according to a review of data compiled by CQ Roll Call's Political Moneyline.

Cantor's PAC, the aptly named Every Republican is Crucial, or ERIC PAC, contributed $30,000 each to Reps. Denham, R-Turlock and Duncan D. Hunter, R-Alpine and $20,000 apiece to Reps. McClintock, R-Elk Grove and Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale.

Brat challenged Cantor on his willingness to support "amnesty" for those in the country illegally, a point Cantor strongly denied in mailers to voters across Virginia's 7th district.

Michael Eggman, a Turlock farmer and Denham's opponent in November, seized on the issue and the PAC's contributions to his rival, contending Cantor's loss was a "resounding rebuke to a career politician who talked out of both sides of his mouth on immigration reform." "Congressman Jeff Denham has been put on notice," Eggman said.

Former Reps. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, Brian Bilbray, R-San Diego and Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, each received donations totaling $40,000, $40,000 and $35,000, respectively, according to the group's database.

Cantor's PAC also is supporting a handful of Republicans expected to face or pose tough competition in November.

Valadao, R-Hanford, got $20,000 and is fielding a challenge from Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria.

Republican Tony Strickland, a former state lawmaker who lost a congressional race in 2012, has taken in $20,000. He's in an intraparty general election with Sen. Steve Knight.

Republican Carl DeMaio, a former city council member in San Diego, received $10,000. He's taking on Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego.

Republican Assembly Member Brian Nestande netted $5,000 in his race against Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert.

And Republican Elan Carr, a gang prosecutor pitted against Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu, got $5,000 in his quest to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Beverly Hills.

The reporter can be reached at ccadelago@sacbee.com.

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