Cooter defeats Cantor: ‘Dukes of Hazzard” actor sets off political earthquake

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This man is more powerful than you could possibly imagine

This man is more powerful than you could possibly imagine

For a guy who once had a bit part on an early ’80s TV show playing an auto mechanic named “Cooter,” Ben Jones sure has had a outsized impact on American politics.

In 1988, three years after The Dukes of Hazzardwent off the air, Jones was elected to the U.S. Congress from the state of Georgia, as a Democrat. He served two terms before losing in 1992; a comeback attempt in 1994 failed when he was defeated by incoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich (yes, it was “Cooter” vs. “Newt”). Now, there’s been another political earthquake involving a member of the House Republican leadership, and Cooter is all over it.

Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, on Tuesday lost his re-election primary to a nearly completely unknown college professor named David Brat. The upset came as a complete shock to all sides of the political press, and is seen as a victory for the Tea Party and a death blow to immigration reform.

Also not to be overlooked? The Cooter factor. According to the National Journal, which cited Cantor’s pollster John McLaughlin, the gentleman formerly known as Cooter played a surprisingly big part in Cantor’s defeat: 

Then McLaughlin cited the “Cooter” factor – the fact that former Rep. Ben Jones, a Georgia Democrat who played Cooter in The Dukes of Hazzard, had written an open letter urging Democrats to vote for Brat to help beat Cantor.

“Over the weekend Democrats like Ben Jones and liberal media were driving their Democratic voters on the internet into the open primary,” McLaughlin wrote. “Eric got hit from right and left. In our polls two weeks out Eric was stronger with Republicans at 70% of the vote, but running under 50% among non Republicans.”

Damn you, Cooter. Perhaps Uncle Jesse holds the key to gaining Congress back for the Democrats. Or maybe Roscoe, or Enos.

As we look forward to what Jon Stewart makes of this (and Stephen Colbert. And, maybe most of all, John Oliver), here are the best Twitter reactions:

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