By Alexander Bolton - 06/11/14 12:12 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Menendez rails against House Puerto Rico bill MORE (D-Nev.) on Wednesday said Republicans should follow the lead of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Reid said Graham defeated conservative challengers and avoided a runoff after co-authoring immigration reform last year, unlike House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorThe Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds Juan Williams: The capitulation of Paul Ryan The Trail 2016: The Big One MORE (R-Va.), who was defeated in a shocking result the same night.
“We need more Republicans who are Lindsey Grahams,” he added. “Lindsey Graham is a very conservative man, but I’ve worked with him on a number of issues, some of which we don’t even talk about publicly.”
Immigration was one of the main issues in Cantor’s primary fight.
David Brat, who defeated Cantor, accused him throughout the campaign of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants and said Wednesday that he won because of the issue.
“Amnesty, at the end, was the clear differentiator between myself and Eric Cantor. It fits into the whole narrative that he was not present in the district, and not in touch with supporting the U.S. Chamber agenda,” Brat said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.”
Cantor did not support the Graham bill passed by the Senate but has voiced support for taking steps to help illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Democratic leaders argued on Wednesday that Cantor’s political downfall would not kill immigration reform this year.
“I think there’s such wide support for this legislation,” Reid said. “In the district that Leader Cantor lost, heavy support for immigration.”
Democratic leaders pointed to a poll in the district showing that 72 percent of voters supported comprehensive immigration reform. The survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic pollster, showed that 58 percent of Republicans in Cantor’s district said immigration reform was very important.