Newly chosen Republican House candidate Dave Brat, whose stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia's GOP primary shot him into the national spotlight, bristles at his "Dave the Tea Partier" label.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner
published Wednesday, Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, said he naively thought reporters would be interested in "what just happened in the 7th [Congressional District] and share the message I've been putting out."
Instead, the focus was on "the political jockeying and the gamesmanship-type-questions," he said, adding: "I met with a few of them and I learned the new game, and I just didn't really like that game."
He says his status as a newly minted national tea party figure is overblown.
"As I told you since day one, I ran on the Republican creed and I ran on the Republican principles, and those principles are what matter," he said. "I obviously had huge tea party support and grassroots support
because they believe in those principles.
"The national media is way too interested in trying to put people into little cubbyholes, and it looks like from the results of the vote I didn't belong in a little cubbyhole . . . they're trying to have their nice little jockeying, gamesmanship-type columns, 'Dave the Tea Partier,' but the evidence shows we surpassed our goals by a tremendous margin."
Brat was particularly irked at an MSNBC interview that he called "kind of the D.C. gotcha-game, and I wasn't familiar with that."
"That's one of those examples I was talking about: I gave very extensive remarks for an extended time on complex issues, and somebody over there decided to splice it up into a 10-second sound bite and say that I wouldn't answer questions. And that's false."
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Brat also told the Examiner there are no hard feelings between him and Cantor.
"Eric has been supportive in private and in public," he said.
"And, yeah, I'm going around meeting with every leader from the congressional delegation of Virginia to the state senators and delegates, local leadership across my entire 7th District . . . that's what I've been doing. That's not the headline-grabbing stuff, but that's the ground game that's important."
Brat will face Randolph-Macon College colleague and Democratic nominee Jack Trammell for the 7th Congressional District House seat in November.
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