US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), the chamber’s second-ranking Republican, was badly beaten in a primary contest Tuesday by an obscure economics professor, David Brat, who gained with tea party backing 55 percent of the vote, effecting a historic electoral surprise that left the GOP in chaos and the House without its heir apparent. Cantor was on track to be the highest-ranking Jewish official in American political history before his unparalleled defeat stunned American politics. Cantor was – and for now, remains – the number-two Republican in a conference of 233 lawmakers.

Brat’s seismic victory is attributed to his opposition to President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms and Cantor’s attempt to work out a bipartisan version. It echoes an anti-immigration trend registered in the recent European parliamentary elections in Europe in which a quarter of the electorate voted for parties advocating restrictions on immigration to their countries.