President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney face off in Denver for their first debate this week. But there is one political debate this week a little closer to home. Republican Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Majority Leader, will debate his Democratic challenger, Wayne Powell, tonight. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks about the details of this week's stories.
Hawkings on the status of Virginia's 7th Congressional District race: "The status of this race is that Eric Canter is the prohibitive favorite. But that doesn't mean the Democrats aren't going to try to make him work relatively hard to hold on to the seat. They're going to make him spend some money. They like the demographic profile of their candidate [Wayne Powell], who's a retired army colonel and an attorney. He's not a career politician — this is his first run for public office. So they think he's at least got a chance to make it close enough that Eric Canter will have to spend some time in Virginia... and not out on the trail so much."
Hawkings on Canter as a rising star, and what's at stake for him as we approach Congressional elections: "Well, of course, he wants to be the majority leader again, so that means the Republicans can afford to lose no more than 24 House seats out of the 535. They have a 24-seat advantage going into the election. They're expected to lose some of those seats. Their margin is at best expected to get narrower. The notion has been the grumbling that if the losses are deeper than expected — closer to 24 than to zero — then there is a chance they will look for new leadership, and as we've discussed in the past, Eric Canter would like to be the Speaker of the House, and that he might challenge John Boehner for that top job."
Hawkings on Rep. Paul Ryan's rising star status, on the book he co-authored with Canter and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, and on how his vice presidential candidacy has affected Cantor: "In the short term, it puts him a little bit out of the spotlight... but yes, [those three] were called the Young Guns, and they wrote a book called the Young Guns, and they actually started a political, very influential money machine called the Young Guns, which essentially rewards up and coming congressional challengers who've proved that they can raise enough money and who have good organizational skills with decent money. So they are sort of the troika of young leadership team in the House."