Economist David Brat (R) was the candidate no one thought could win. His bid to oust House majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District seemed so unlikely that the national press largely ignored him.
“Can you reporters please find out who I am?” he implored at a June 5 town hall meeting in Brandy Station, Va., according to the local news publication the Culpeper Star Exponent. He told the crowd that his impending victory over the majority leader would send “shockwaves” that would be “heard throughout the country.”
Mr. Brat’s upset in Virginia did indeed reverberate throughout the country and launched the unlikely underdog as the man everyone wants to get to know.
In a letter to potential constituents on his campaign website, Brat describes himself as “a life-long Republican and economist” with the know-how to “get the economy back on track, get our citizens back to work, restore our credit rating, and secure a better future for our children and grandchildren.”
He took a firm stance against the Affordable Care Act as an “economically disastrous law and an unconstitutional power grab,” vowed to rein in national debt and entitlement programs, and pledged to submit legislation to impose a 12-year Congressional term limit, as detailed on his campaign website.
Brat made immigration the central issue of the primary and accused Mr. Cantor of being too willing to compromise on immigration reform. On the campaign trail, he repeatedly told voters that a vote for Cantor is a vote for amnesty, open borders, and low wages.
Cantor “is working hand-in-glove with the Chamber of Commerce to boost the supply of low-wage guest workers for corporations and provide other lavish wall street bailouts at taxpayers’ expense,” Brat said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller.
His opposition to the financial bailouts and his stance against crony capitalism have prompted some political commentators to label Brat a tea party candidate. However, he maintained in several speeches during his grassroots campaign that he is “a Republican running on the Republican creed.”
A native Michigander, Brat moved to Virginia in 1996, when he took up a position as an economics and ethics professor at Randolph-Macon College, a liberal arts and sciences college in Ashland. He has served as chair of the college’s economics and business department for the past six years.
Brat currently lives in Henrico, Va., just outside of Richmond, with his wife Laura, 15-year-old son Jonathan, and 11-year-old daughter Sophia. He is a devout Catholic who attends St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Richmond.
“As a product of the rural Midwest, he learned the value of faith, family, and a strong work ethic at a young age,” according to his campaign website. “Dave was determined to get an education that would empower him to help others reach their economic dreams.”
According to LinkedIn, Brat previously worked as an economic consultant for The World Bank and for the financial firm Arthur Andersen, based in St. Charles, Illinois.
While this is his first bid for political office, he has been active in the Virginia political scene as an economic adviser for several years. He served on the Joint Advisory Board of Economists for two Virginia governors and frequently appeared on regional media as a commentator on economics, public policy, and ethics, according to his campaign website.