Who is David Brat? Meet the wildcard who upset the Virginia primary
David Brat, an economics professor, wins the GOP primary in Virginia, ousting current Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Katherine DeClerq, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, June 11, 2014 4:21PM EDT
Majority House Leader Eric Cantor was set to sail toward a certain victory during the GOP primary in Virginia on Wednesday. He had a 34-point lead in the polls and millions in his campaign fund.
But his congressional dream was unexpectedly crushed when it was announced that Tea Party associate David Brat would become the Republican candidate for Congress.
Brat, an economics professor who was, until Wednesday, unheard of outside of Virginia, will now become the Republican candidate on the ballot for the congressional elections in November.
This loss makes Cantor the first sitting House majority leader to be rejected by his own party since 1899. He was also in line to be House Speaker.
According to Jordan Lieberman, strategist and president of Campaign Grid, Cantor made a rookie mistake: Despite nation-wide campaigning efforts and fundraising events, he failed to actually spend much time in his primary district of Virginia.
“I think Eric Cantor did everything but campaign for re-election,” Lieberman said to CTV’s News Channel. “Politics are local, and the smaller the primary challenge the harder they are to predict.”
So who is this underdog who managed to take on one of the most recognizable figures in Republican politics? CTVNews.ca answers your questions below.
Who is David Brat?
Brat was considered a non-contender in the primary race. Almost no one knew about him: his Wikipedia entry before Tuesday night contained only two sentences.
As an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, Brat, 52, got raving reviews from students on Ratemyprofessor.com, where he was called “charming,” “enthusiastic,” and “animated.”
Throughout the campaign, Brat continued to take his academic duties seriously, and refused to put them on the backburner. He even declined campaign-related meetings with large conservative backers because he had exams to grade.
Brat has a bachelor in business administration, a Ph.D. in Economics, and a Master’s in Theology. Over the years, his economic expertise has been utilized by the state. He has won appointments to sit on Virginia’s Council of Economic Advisers and is the current director of the BB&T Program on Capitalism, Markets, and Morality.
His faith has also been a factor during the campaign and has influenced much of his academic work, in which he compares capitalism to morality and ethics. He is Roman Catholic and attends service at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on a regular basis with his wife and two children.
What does he represent?
Brat is part of the now-five-year-old Tea Party movement, a political faction that advocates for government reform by reducing spending and lowering taxes. The movement is founded on Judeo-Christian values, and members have sponsored multiple protests against the current government over the last few years.
His campaign strategy seemed to revolve around Cantor’s openness to discuss immigration reform. Brat repeatedly accused the House Majority Leader of favouring amnesty and low-cost jobs. Brat, on the other hand, wanted to secure the borders and ensure Americans get top priority in the job market.
Brat supports the “Republican Creed,” which includes the adoption of a free market and acting on the basis of fiscal responsibility, the preservation of liberties, a strong military, and equal opportunity.
He is even quoted from an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin as saying: “There’s only one problem with the Republican creed, and that is no Republican follows it.”
He’s not afraid to speak his mind
His academic work and stark honesty will come up again in the coming months, as the U.S. electorate begins to dig into the life of the Republican nominee.
Of the things they may find is a 2011 anthology of works called Interpretation: A Journal of Bible Theology, in which he writes that Hitler’s rise “could all happen again, quite easily,” if people are not united in faith.
He also says that the government “holds a monopoly on violence,” implying that there is little reason why the public should trust either the Left or the Right in government.
Brat may also have to defend his strongest campaign supporter, talk radio host Laura Ingraham, who appeared at one of his fundraisers and said that President Barack Obama should have sent Cantor to the Taliban rather than trading five “MVPs.”
Brat will face the Democratic nominee, Jack Trammell, another professor from Randolph-Macon, in the fall election. But as Virginia is a heavily Republican state, chances are good that this Tea Party underdog will become the district’s Congressman-elect.
As for Cantor, he was expected to announce Wednesday afternoon that he will be stepping down as Majority Leader, effective July 31. Prior to this announcement, Republican representatives had already tossed their name in as his possible replacement.