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.
“I ran on six Republican principles. Every stump speech I gave I ran through the six principles,” he said, the crowd cheering.
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.
Like many candidates running longshot races before him, Brat had spoken on the trail of a sense of momentum.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Mike DeBonis and Aaron Blake contributed to this report.
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