Tuesday, June 10, 2014

House Majority Leader Cantor Defeated in Primary

(Steve Helber/ AP ) - Congressional candidate David Brat, center, speaks during a press conference at the state Capitol in Richmond, Va., May 28, 2014. Brat defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary Tuesday night.

David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, has just taught Washington — and one of its most powerful leaders — a lesson in humility [and Principle.]

Brat was dismissed by many Republicans inside the Beltway and beyond, who saw an upstart without the brawn, dollars or organization to depose the second most powerful man in the House.

The seismic political consequences of Eric Cantor’s stunning loss

The seismic political consequences of Eric Cantor’s stunning loss

An upset for the ages will ripple out through the political world.

GOP trying to assess impact of Cantor loss

GOP trying to assess impact of Cantor loss

Establishment says Eric Cantor’s loss to David Brat may have been the result of particular circumstances.

No one saw Eric Cantor’s primary loss coming — in an endless number of shocked tweets

No one saw Eric Cantor’s primary loss coming — in an endless number of shocked tweets

Cantor lost his Republican primary Tuesday in a completely befuddling upset that no one saw coming.

Chaos erupts at Cantor election night headquarters

Chaos erupts at Cantor election night headquarters

Immigration reform supporters stormed a hotel ballroom, while Cantor supporters tried to block them.

Why Cantor’s loss is bad news for big business

Why Cantor’s loss is bad news for big business

Two of the most powerful lobbying groups just lost one of their key GOP allies.

David Brat just beat Eric Cantor. Who is he?

David Brat just beat Eric Cantor. Who is he?

The background on the man who won the biggest upset in recent history.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) gives his concession speech after a shocking upset to tea party favorite David Brat.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) gives his concession speech after a shocking upset to tea party favorite David Brat.
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He did it by casting himself to the right of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on immigration and the Affordable Care Act — and more importantly by giving pumped up primary voters and conservative talkers including Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham an opportunity to make an anti-establishment statement. 
Last month, Brat’s Tea Party supporters booed Cantor at a key party meeting in his district.
On Tuesday night, about 200 of them erupted in joy in a nondescript building in an office park in Glen Allen, Va.
It was originally billed as a thank-you party for volunteers. But this was victory.

“I ran on six Republican principles. Every stump speech I gave I ran through the six principles,” he said, the crowd cheering.
One of them: equal treatment under the law for all people.
“Third principle, it’s not a punch line, it’s called fiscal responsibility,” he said.

Brat, who teaches third-world economics, sounded every bit the professor.

“The 10th amendment is the big one, the Constitution has enumerated powers belonging to the federal government. All the rest of the powers belong to the states and the people,” he said, winning huge applause.

Laurie and Gregg Kalata of Midlothian were sitting on their couch in their pajamas after working the polls all day. When they realized Brat had pulled it off, they got up and came to the party.

“He won because people don’t want illegal immigration,” Laurie Kalata said.

“This was not a tea party election. 
This was a conservative Republicans vote,” said Gregg Kalata, who wore a homemade sign that read, “7th District GOP voters can’t trust Eric Cantor.”

Like many candidates running longshot races before him, Brat had spoken on the trail of a sense of momentum. 
That’s what candidates say.
“It’s getting exciting — and I’m not BS-ing you,” Brat said in an interview last month. “This district is conservative and idiosyncratic, and they’re not overwhelmed by the establishment and their millions. It’s David vs. Rome.”

Unlike most such seekers, he was right. Rome lost.

Brat has a prominent photograph of Cantor standing beside President Obama on his website, to embody his message that Cantor hadn’t fought hard enough, and summarized his own bid in a Twitter bio: “I am running for Congress to be ERIC CANTOR’S TERM LIMIT. 
Free Markets, Constitution, Liberty. No more Crony Capitalism!”

On Facebook, team Brat posted a picture of the Gipper in a cowboy hat. “Dave pays tribute to President Reagan, and his vision for freedom, every time he says, ‘I will make Washington, D.C. as irrelevant to your everyday life as possible.’” [?]

Larry Nordvig, executive director of the Richmond Tea Party, said Brat’s campaign grew from a dinner Nordvig had with film maker Ronald Maxwell, who directed the Civil War epic Gettysburg and, more recently, Copperhead. They were hashing over ideas on good candidates to take on Cantor.

Nordvig saw Brat speak at a fundraiser for E.W. Jackson, the conservative Virginia minister who nabbed the state’s GOP’s nomination for lieutenant governor in last year’s election, only to be trounced in the general election by Democrat Ralph S. Northam.

“I asked him 45 minutes of questions afterward...about what would he do about deficit spending, what would he do about Obamacare, what would he do about amnesty …and he gave very satisfactory answers,” said Nordvig, who described Brat as “presidential looking” — important in an era of televised campaigns. 
“Between his appearance and his bearing and his answers to tough questions, I knew we had the right man for the job.”
The results Tuesday left him and the other supporters “crazy happy,” Nordvig said. “There’s a lot of can’t believe this has happened, just a wonderful disbelief. Just absolutely thrilled.”
On Fox host Sean Hannity’s show after the victory, Brat said: “I was blessed. I mean, it’s a miracle. … God acts through people. And God acted through the people.”

Brat also cited immigration as a difference-maker in the campaign, saying politicians are beholden to the Chamber of Commerce. “They want cheap labor, and that’s going to lower wages for everybody else,” he said.
Brat has long reveled in poking the establishment, talking up battles against the “intellectual elite” while at Princeton, where he earned a masters in divinity, and against “the powerful elite” at American University, where he received his Ph.D. in economics.

His campaign bio points to his time as an economic adviser to Virginia governors, work which prompted an accusation from Cantor that Brat had been too chummy with former Democratic governor Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.)
After about decade at Randolph-Macon, Brat took a more direct role in politics. In 2005, he took an unpaid position as an adviser to state Sen. Walter A. Stosch (R-Glen Allen), chair of the Senate Finance Committee. 
In that position, Brat researched higher-education initiatives, including a proposal to create a grant program allowing underprivileged students to move beyond high school.
“He wanted some exposure to the legislative process, and I was glad to have him,” Stosch said Tuesday. “Both of us have an interest in education — particularly in economically deprived young people who, without opportunity, would not be able to go beyond high school.”
Stosch said Brat expressed an interest in entering electoral politics in the years he worked for him — at one point putting his name forward to fill a House of Delegates seat. 
But when Brat pursued his congressional run, he could not count on Stosch’s open support: Cantor was also a friend and former aide to Stosch.
“It was one of those things where it was hard for me to become too actively involved,” Stosch said. “I was caught between my admiration and friendship with both of them.”
Stosch on Tuesday said he was “somewhat surprised” by Brat’s victory, recalling Cantor’s political work ethic.
“There’s a perceptible anti-government mood,” Stosch said. “People are a little bit mad at Washington, and they express that in different ways.”

Mike DeBonis and Aaron Blake contributed to this report.

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