“I want to be Eric Cantor’s term limit.” That is what Dave Brat told National Review Online back in January as he announced his challenge to race against House Majority leader Eric Cantor for the Congressional seat in the 7th district of Virginia. Last night, Dave Brat got his wish and called it a “miracle” defeating the seventh term Congressman in the primary election in a shocking upset that had Twitter feeds and social media a buzz.
I live in the 7th district and I have been watching this race from the very start. I am one of those “mad conservatives” who is tired of establishment Republicans flip-flopping on issues like Amnesty and Obamacare. Cantor has been on my conservative radar for a while now and Dave Brat caught my attention since he was backed by my local Tea Party.
I attended a Tea Party meeting where Dave Brat was hosted as their speaker. He’s an economics and ethics professor at Randolph-Macon College and is well-known in Virginia politics for his economic expertise. He’s a Milton Friedman economist and his fiscal economic principles have set him apart from the increasing government spenders that currently inhabit Washington.
It was a hot and humid day yesterday in Virginia as the polls were open for the primary election. I voted before noon and Dave Brat was outside greeting voters at my polling place. Eric Cantor shares my polling location but voted in an absentee ballot. Dave Brat shook my hand and he urged me to get voters out because turn-out was low. As we chatted, I was handed an Eric Cantor leaflet by a poll worker. I think that was probably the twentieth hand-out I received from Cantor as my mailbox was flooded on a daily basis from Cantor’s well-funded ($5.4 million to be exact) campaign. I never received any leaflets from Brat’s low funded ($200,000) campaign. His campaign was mostly pushed by word-of-mouth and door-to-door supporters getting out his message. Just goes to prove money doesn’t always buy the votes. Then again, maybe Dave Brat was being financially conservative with campaign funds?
Was this a victory for the grassroots movement who has grown tired of Eric Cantor’s Washington-style politics? Yes, absolutely but only by the local Tea Party in the 7th district. The National Tea Party did not put their support behind Dave Brat. I hope they are kicking themselves right about now and taking notice.
Was Dave Brat’s win dominated by Conservative Republican voters? It’s hard to make that kind of call since Virginia has open elections. We do know that former Congressman Ben Jones (aka “Cooter”) wrote a letter to the editor of The Huffington Post calling Democrats to unseat Cantor by voting for the Tea Party- backed opponent Dave Brat. Seems he was taking a play out of Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” playbook. Then again, he might have an axe to grind since he was defeated by Cantor in 2002.
Last night’s surprise win for Dave Brat was indeed a victory for Conservatives. It was also a wake-up call for the establishment-type Republicans who continually discredit the Tea Party movement. We’re still here and we are not mad right-wing lunatics. In fact, we are your average working Americans who realize change needs to come not just from defeating the Democrat Party but by kicking-out Republican leadership who refuse to represent Constitutional principles. There is no room for progressive ideals and voters understand just how important is it to stop immigration reform and repeal Obamacare.
However, I am a realist and although I do believe we need to vote out and change the Republican Party, I know the opposition. This win is not without its doubts. Eric Cantor was in line to take John Boehner’s top seat as Speaker of the House and if Dave Brat loses in November this will be a huge loss to the Republican Party.
Where do we go from here? We celebrate this grassroots victory because the Tea Party movement is still alive and well in America but we get to work. Dave Brat needs support from the Republican Party. Even if you were an Eric Cantor supporter it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work to help Dave Brat win in November.
Yesterday, I chatted with Dave Brat standing all alone out in the heat fighting for support to win the primary election. Not a career politician but a normal, everyday citizen eager to bring change to Washington. Let’s help him do that!
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.