Politico's Mike Allen reports that Jeb Bush has won the endorsement of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Cantor himself soon confirmed it on Twitter:
.@JebBush is a true leader w/ a long-term vision for our country and the know how to implement it– not just talk about it. I'm #AllInForJeb.— Eric Cantor (@EricCantor) August 27, 2015
Cantor, of course, went down to a stunning defeat in his primary last year, due to perceptions by his party's base that he was too close to the establishment and wealthy elites and not conservative enough on immigration. These are, obviously, issues that plague Bush's primary bid too — he's raised tons of money but has been overshadowed by Donald Trump, who talks tough on immigration and says he can't be bought. So, in a way, this endorsement fits quite well:
Establishment GOPer who shockingly lost primary endorses Jeb Bush. https://t.co/ohMFxyCpZs— Kevin Robillard (@PoliticoKevin) August 27, 2015
One question I'm more interested in is whom the man who defeated Cantor — Dave Brat — will endorse. After all, he seems to be better in touch with today's GOP base. Now, this Facebook post was made before Trump announced his candidacy, but it suggests Brat has good relations with him and praises him as "a brother-in-arms when it comes to stopping illegal immigration."
Again, though, this was two months before Trump actually entered the race, and it's unclear what Brat thinks about how his campaign has gone since. Now, if Bush manages to pick up the Brat endorsement, that would be something for his campaign to brag about.
Current elected officials have been extremely slow to endorse anyone
The real story of the endorsement primary so far, though, is that actual sitting Republican elected officials have been more hesitant to endorse anyone than in any GOP field in recent decades. You can see this in the historical comparisons in FiveThirtyEight's tracker, which collects endorsements from sitting governors, senators, and House members.
In the site's tally, Bush is currently the leader, but his haul is extremely unimpressive — he's been endorsed by a mere three senators and six House members who aren't from Florida. Indeed, zero of the 27 sitting Republican governors who aren't running for president have endorsed him.
Yet his main rivals are doing even worse — Scott Walker has amassed a mere three endorsements so far (two of whom are Wisconsin Congressmen), and Marco Rubio just one. Trump has zero — Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is a fan, but hasn't officially given him the nod.
At first glance Chris Christie looks to be nipping at Bush's heels, but that's just because FiveThirtyEight weights governor endorsements heavily, and two East Coast governors (Paul LePage of Maine and Larry Hogan of Maryland) owed Christie a favor for spending Republican Governors Association money on their campaigns in the 2014 cycle. The other candidates in the race have mainly collected a few congressmen here and there. For now, the actual, officeholding heavy hitters in the party are refusing to commit.