The Cantor-Slayer: Meet David Brat
The only thing that is more shocking than yesterday's stunning defeat of Republican Eric Cantor at the hand of a completely unknown tea-party candidate, David Brat - an outcome many have called the "biggest blow to the GOP establishment in years" and one which may be reverberating in equities today as "same as it ever was" politics was dealt a major blow - is just how unknown (and underfunded) David Brat is (and was).
So for all those curious to learn some more about this Cantor-slaying "David", here first, with no edits, is the information straight from the horse's mouth: his CV from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.
More on his background from Politico
Brat, a Michigan native, is 49 years old. He’s spent the last 18 years working as an economics professor at Randolph Macon College, a school of around 1,200 students located in Ashland, Va. According to news reports, he also spent time working as an economist in the Army and at the accounting firm Arthur Andersen.
He earned his bachelors degree from Hope College, a small liberal arts college in Holland, Mich. He would go on to get a doctorate in economics from American University. Brat, who is Catholic, got his masters from Princeton Theological Seminiary, an institution that, according to its mission statement, “prepares women and men to serve Jesus Christ in ministries marked by faith, integrity, scholarship, competence, compassion, and joy, equipping them for leadership worldwide in congregations and the larger church, in classrooms and the academy, and in the public arena.”
Brat launched his campaign in January. Like many tea party-aligned candidates, he said he wanted to address the nation’s ballooning deficit and that he wanted to be Cantor’s “term limit.”
But, even for a conservative hopeful, he took on the Republican establishment in unusually harsh terms. Shortly after launching his campaign, according to an account in the Culpeper Star Exponent, Brat held an event in which he suggested that Washington politicians charged money to pass laws. He also said that, to get a seat on the House Ethics Committee, a member would have to pay $150,000.
“These days everything is for sale in D.C,” Brat said at the time, according to the paper.
Appearing on Fox News after the race was called, Brat disputed the characterization of the race as being simply a battle between the tea party and establishment. He said he had won support from Republicans across the board who were attracted to his espousal of fiscal conservatism and “faith in God.”
“The press is always out to have these exciting stories to sell papers, and people actually do care about policy,” he said. “I give 30-minute stump speeches on policy and the press made fun of me. …Well the American people are ready for serious issues.”
Brat’s top strategist for much of the race was John Pudner, who operates an Atlanta, Ga.-based political consulting firm, Concentric Direct. Pudner spent the first two months of the contest working for Brat directly, then split off in March to start a Brat-backing super PAC.
Speaking by phone Tuesday night, Pudner said he was in shock. There were times during the race when he felt hopeful, he said, but even Brat’s strongest supporters didn’t see this coming.
“I think we’re all waiting to wake up to see if this really happened,” he said.
On Fox News, Brat called his win a “miracle.”
“I think the people are just ready for some major changes in this country,” he said, “and I was blessed. It’s a miracle.”
And by way of the ABC, here once again, is his pre-election profile:
Brat, who admits that he has supported several Cantor candidacies over the years, says he mounted his improbable primary campaign because the House GOP's No. 2 leader has lost touch with his constituents, "veering from the Republican creed."
"Years ago he had a good conservative track record, but now he's veered off," Brat told ABC News during an interview on Capitol Hill. "If you go to Heritage and look at their score, I think he's at about a 53 right now. I mean, that's an F-minus."
Heritage Action's scorecard tracks Republican votes, co-sponsorships and other legislative activity to gauge how conservative members of Congress are performing. Cantor actually receives a 52 percent, which ranks seventh among eight Virginia House Republicans.
While a recent profile of the race in the Washington Post characterized Brat as "a potential threat," the quirky challenger knows he has a tough road to victory in the June 10 primary.
"Most of these [primary] races don't kick in until about 30 days prior," he said. "Now everyone's looking, what's the race? It's an open primary and it's just Eric and I on the ticket."
Brat, 49, isn't the first primary challenger Cantor has faced. The Richmond Republican smoked primary challenger Floyd Bayne in 2012 by nearly 60 percentage points before cruising to a 17-point victory in the general election.
But with low primary turnout (just 47,000 voters turned out in the primary two years ago) and anti-incumbency fervor at an all-time high, Cantor's team says they aren't overlooking Brat, although they "don't see him getting a great deal of traction."
"We're on the ground, running the campaign," Cantor campaign spokesman and senior strategist Ray Allen said in a phone interview. "We take every figure seriously and do our own due diligence. It is what it is."
Brat claims "the money is flowing in right now," expanding an underwhelming campaign war chest that he last reported contained just $40,000.
"The race was once viewed as a long-shot, [but] it's tightening now," Brat said. "We're well over double, triple what we had on the books just a month ago and so now we're getting the national attention I always hoped."
Brat complained that Cantor, 50, has a "crony-capitalist mentality" to take care of the corporate sector ahead of the interests of small businesses.
"On the conservative scorecard, on the free market votes, he's doing everything wrong," Brat said. "He's not following what folks in his district want him to do and it's hurting the country."
Allen described Brat as "a weird duck" and criticized him for serving on then-Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine's Joint Advisory Board of Economists.
"Eric Cantor is a conservative leader," Allen, who has advised Cantor's campaigns since 1991, said. "[Brat] doesn't like being called a liberal college professor, but that's what he is and what he's always been. Tea Party conservatives don't serve as an economic adviser to Tim Kaine."
Brat calls himself as a "free market guy," and says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also pledged never to increase taxes and to stick to a five-year promise not to vote to increase the debt limit.
"This isn't a personal race. I'm not running against Eric," he stressed. "I'm just running on the founding principles that Adam Smith and free markets - they made us the greatest nation on the Earth. All right? It's no mystery. Our rights, tradition, along with free markets and the Judeo-Christian tradition all together made us the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. I think we're veering off course a little bit there and I want to get us back on that course that brought us to greatness."
If Brat ultimately wins the primary and is seated in the 114 th Congress, he would not commit his vote for speaker to House Speaker John Boehner, but offered his support to any contender who's "more free market and more fiscally responsible."
"I'd have to take a good look at what they're doing but I support people who follow the Republican creed, and so it doesn't look like the leadership is doing a good job on that right now," Brat said.
"They're not free market at all, right? They do not take free market seriously and they're off on fiscal responsibility."
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