On Tuesday, David Brat ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. And by a significant margin, despite Cantor’s internal polling reportedly showing Cantor up 34 points last week
Here’s an overview of the man who may be the next member of Congress from Virginia’s 7th district.
• He is married with two children. A 49-year-old native of Alma, Mich., Brat wife’s name is Laura and his teenaged children are Jonathan and Sophia. Brat apparently goes by Dave.
• He teaches economics at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Brat, who has a Ph.D. and a Masters of Divinity, teaches mostly introductory economics classes at the college, a small liberal arts school outside of Richmond. His faculty website features photos of Adam Smith, John Calvin, Friedrich Hayek, and John Maynard Keynes in the four corners.
• Brat was backed by the Tea Party. In addition to being backed by prominent conservatives (Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham), Brat was backed by grass-roots Tea Party groups as well. As the National Journal notes, Cantor’s district became more conservative in the most recent redistricting, including adding new areas to his district, making an ideologically-driven challenge more possible.
In May, Cantor addressed the state Republican convention, where he received a negative response from some of the activists in the audience.
• Brat is not a ‘‘liberal college professor.’’ No doubt hoping that conservative voters would bail on Brat’s candidacy, Cantor labeled him a ‘‘liberal college professor,’’ which FactCheck determined was inaccurate. The site asked conservative economist Richard Rahn for his assessment of Brat and were told that ‘‘he always portrayed himself to me as very conservative.’’
As if to hammer home the point, Brat’s previous research includes a study titled, ‘‘An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.’’ (Brat says he is not a Randian.) He frequently trumpeted the six elements of the ‘‘Republican Creed’’ on the campaign trail, which you can read at his website.
He cites experience at the World Bank and Arthur Andersen.
• He ran for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2011. In August 2011, Brat announced that he would run for the Republican nomination for a House of Delegates seat. The party chose to run someone else in the general election. (He won.)
• Brat was massively outraised. According to his most recent filing with the FEC, Brat raised only about $206,000 through the middle of May. Cantor, on the other hand, raised $5.4 million this cycle.
• He will be running against one of his colleagues in November. Brat will face Jack Trammell, also an instructor at Randolph-Macon.
• Brat’s challenge to Cantor, 51, came as the seven-term incumbent tried to help wrest control of the state Republican Party from Tea Party-aligned officials. The effort failed at a district convention last month in Henrico County, Cantor’s home base, when conservatives ousted one of his loyalists as chairman while he looked on.
• The state’s 7th Congressional District is solidly Republican, and Brat was able to tap into discontent by voters about Cantor’s support for immigration reform, ending the government shutdown, and raising the debt limit.
Material from other wire services was used in this report.