Virginia's upstart Republican House candidate Dave Brat, whose historic primary win over Majority Leader Eric Cantor stunned Washington, describes his crushing victory as "pretty simple."
"The people spoke, and that's the vote," said Brat, an economics professor and former seminarian with no political experience, a tiny campaign war chest — and the backing of tea party groups.
"What happened is pretty simple: You go door-to-door . . . with a basic premise that is 'how do you think Washington, D.C. is doing?'" he told radio host Glenn Beck on Wednesday.
"Every single person . . . said, 'It's absolutely broken,'" Brat said. "So then the question is: Who's running D.C.? And the answer is: Eric Cantor and establishment Republicans and Democrats."
Brat, who earned
his master's in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and his doctorate in economics from American University, beat Cantor in Tuesday's primary
for the right to face Democrat Jack Trammell on Nov. 4.
Pundits focused on Brat's attacks on Cantor over his support of immigration reform as the biggest reason for the surprise victory.
The last major upset of a sitting House leader was in 1994, when Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley lost in the general election to Republican George Nethercutt.
But Brat said voters were not so narrow-minded and that "common sense" prevailed over politics.
"Amnesty is a big part of that," he conceded of his win. "But it has to do with debt and deficits, not coming back and visiting your constituents, not holding town halls," he said. "That's what happened . . . Our volunteers went out and met with the people."
"I made it very clear to the press
, this is not about right and further right or any of that," Brat also told Beck's radio listeners.
"[The] free market is not a liberal or conservative issue. The rule of law is not a right or left issue. Those are American principles since our founding, and to the extent that other countries follow our lead . . . they will prosper. That's what I want, because every one of those people is a child of God."
"We are the compassionate party," Brat added. "China and India are feeding their people for the first time in human history due to free markets, and the left knows that, and it gets them nervous."
Brat said voters want their leaders to talk up the "virtuous nature of free markets. People feel that they are not being represented," Brat said, "and that's the major context of what happened."
Reacting to Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's demonization of Brat as from the "far right," Brat slammed Democrats for claiming "they want to work across the aisle."
"They haven't met me," the 49-year-old Randolph-Macon College professor said.
"Everyone on the news last night is asking, 'Who's Dave Brat?' The one thing they know is he's a bad guy — before they even meet me. So how do you work across the aisle when you are sharing that bad blood right up front?"
Brat also said he's got a basic fix for the mess in Washington: insist the branches of government do their intended jobs.
"[Congress] just needs to assert [its] representative role and to take back this executive presidency and to take their role back from the judiciary — who is running the country instead of just interpreting the law," Brat said.
"We're lacking true leadership, and we ran on that and we won on that. So the Republican creed is perfectly fine. We just have to follow that Republican creed, and we would do very well. It emphasizes all those American principles we are talking about."
Going into the November election, Brat — who raised $200,000 for his run against Cantor's war chest of $5.4 million — said he'll stay the course he set in the primary.
"I'm running 100 percent Republican on the creed," he said. "The Republican principles are great. We need to follow them. A lot of Republicans do — a lot of young blood in there are following that creed. So it is not about personalities. It is about principles. Always has been."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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