David Brat Played on Anti-Washington Sentiment to Beat Cantor

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 11:11 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Virginia House GOP challenger David Brat pulled off a stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday, leaving the political world scrambling to acquaint itself with the virtually unknown tea party candidate who rode to victory with just a few hundred thousand dollars.

Brat, a 49-year-old economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, successfully challenged the No. 2 Republican in the House by appealing to an anti-Washington sentiment and casting Cantor as a proponent of "amnesty," a position on immigration that is wildly unpopular among the GOP base.

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"God acted through people on my behalf," Brat told Fox News after his victory, according to The Wall Street Journal. "It's an unbelievable miracle."

Brat not only overcame the formidable incumbent advantage, but also prevailed over a coordinated, well-funded effort by the GOP establishment and business groups backing Cantor's $5 million campaign.

Brat did, however, benefit from the backing of conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham, who rallied behind him on air and at an event last week. Conservative talk show host Ann Coulter also seized on his candidacy to highlight anti-establishment messages, The Washington Post reported.

Brat also added a populist element to his campaign, suggesting Cantor, and the GOP in general, was too distant from constituents and beholden to corporate interests, the Journal reported.

"The issue is the Republican Party has been paying way too much attention to Wall Street and not enough attention to Main Street," Brat said.

During his campaign, he emphasized the principles of limited government, free markets, and the rule of law as central to his philosophy.

"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 in his victory speech, according to the Post.

Brat will face Democratic nominee Jack Trammell in November, also a professor at Randolph-Macon College.

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