The sensational defeat of Virginia congressman Eric Cantor is bad news for immigration reform.

Or maybe not.

The loss also likely elevates Congressman Kevin McCarthy from California to the No 2 position. He is currently the majority whip and represents a central California district where pro-immigrant issues, such as the need for immigrant labor among the huge farming concerns, are critical.

His district is 35 percent Latino and he is on record as favoring a version of immigration reform.

He is fourth generation Californian from Bakersfield, where, he boasts, his Irish ancestor “Jeremiah McCarthy’s original house still stands.”

Speaking of his overall position on immigration he stated, "The principles aren't combined, written out yet, but in my personal belief I think it'll go with legal status that will allow you to work and pay your taxes," McCarthy told KBFX.

"But if you want to become a citizen, you'll have to go through the path. There won't be amnesty inside it."

As a much younger man than current speaker John Boehner (he is 48), and with a much better relationship with Boehner than Cantor had he could effectively become the speaker in waiting.

Internal polls allegedly had the Speaker in Waiting 30 points or so ahead and the only public poll had him leading by a dozen.

Anti-immigrant politicians such as Congressman Steve King of Iowa were last night gleefully tweeting that Cantor’s immigration stance, which casts him as a moderate among Republicans, had cost him.

“Resounding rejection for amnesty and victory for rule of law,” King tweeted.

But immigration opposition by his opponent David Brat (wonderful name) a college lecturer was not the only factor at play.

If immigration was the national hot button issue then how did Senator Lindsey Graham from the far more conservative state of South Carolina manage to breeze to victory in a hotly contested GOP primary?

Graham is far more identified with immigration than Cantor, who had flooded his congressional district with anti-immigration literature.

What seemed to have done for Cantor was his absence from his home district and failure to tend to the grassroots.

As a high profile Republican it seems Cantor was everywhere except in his district, flying nationwide for fundraisers and keeping up a relentless schedule on the national stage.

That in the end may have doomed him rather than any immigration policy issue.