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Future of GOP & Immigration Reform “In Play’” in Leader Race

Photo: Some say a backlash could follow if the election of a new House Majority Leader to replace Rep. Eric Cantor moves the GOP farther to the right. CREDIT: U.S. House of Representatives.
Photo: Some say a backlash could follow if the election of a new House Majority Leader to replace Rep. Eric Cantor moves the GOP farther to the right. CREDIT: U.S. House of Representatives.
June 16, 2014

NEW YORK CITY - Thursday's election of a new House Majority Leader to replace Rep. Eric Cantor is currently a two-way race. But some say a backlash could follow if the election moves the GOP farther to the right.

Michael D'Innocenzo, Distinguished Teaching Professor for the Study of Nonviolent Social Change at Hofstra University, said the stakes are high for the future of the GOP on big issues like immigration reform.

"I think if they pick a far-right leader," said D'Innocenzo, "demonstrations and protests from now until November could have some surprising results, maybe bringing back some hope for comprehensive immigration reform."

Tea Party-backed Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador joined the race last week, running against the third-ranking Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy.

While some believe Eric Cantor lost his Virginia House seat because he softened his position on immigration, Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, executive director of Long

Island Wins, said polls in Cantor's heavily red district show voters actually favor immigration reform.

She added that Cantor's defeat doesn't change the majority view that reform is needed.

"80 percent of Long Islanders want immigration reform with a path to citizenship," said Sinclair Slutsky. "The majority of Americans want immigration reform, and there are still 11 million people who need to come under the law."

According to D'Innocenzo, both the GOP and the House are in need of an intervention from senior members. Too many recently elected representatives come from narrowly-drawn districts where they represent few minorities or Latinos. He said Rep. Peter King of New York's 2nd Congressional District could play an important role.

"King has become a real critic of the excesses of people on the far-right," said D'Innocenzo. "He feels it's like a suicide mission harming the Republican Party. And as King's district has become more diverse, he's become really sensitive to that."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY