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Brat Takes Center Stage After Surprising Win Over Cantor

David Brat, the political novice who upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Tuesday night. (Courtesy Brat Campaign)
David Brat, the political novice who upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Tuesday night. (Courtesy Brat Campaign)

David Brat, who pulled off a stunning — and convincing — win over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia Republican primary Tuesday night, has been flying under the media radar for much of the campaign.  

Not any more .  

News organizations (including this one) scrambled Tuesday night to fill in the details on the college professor — he’s head of the department of Economics and Business at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. — who had been generally described, if he had been described at all, in three words: “tea party challenger.”  

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal both posted articles under headlines asking “Who is David Brat?” and Brat himself did a star turn with a lengthy, post-victory interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Speaking on the phone on Tuesday night with Hannity, Brat called his win a “miracle,” saying he was “utterly humbled and thankful” that “God gave us this win [and] acted through the people.”  

Brat also acknowledged that he had “tremendous tea party support,” which he said was “clearly responsible for the win,” but denied that he was any sort of fringe, far-right candidate.  

“We have this Republican creed in Virginia that the only problem with the Republican principles is no one’s following them,” Brat insisted. “I ran on the Republican principles.”  

He also credited his immigration stance as a factor in his primary win.  

“It’s the most symbolic issue that captures the differences between myself in Eric Cantor in this race,” Brat said, “but it also captures the fissure between Main Street and Wall Street. … Why are Republicans doing this? Why are they so intent on this immigration reform? There’s no answer that makes any logical sense.”  

Brat denied that he was “far right or hard right,” and blamed the media for trying to paint him as an extremist.  

“I’ve been a conservative all my life,” he said.  

When asked by Hannity what he would like to say to Cantor on Tuesday night, Brat said it was nothing personal.  

“Throughout the entire race, I’ve always said, ‘I’m not running against Eric Cantor as a person.’ He’s a fine person,” Brat said. “I just ran against him on the principles.”  

Brat has been a professor at Randolph-Macon College since 1996, teaching courses including Macroeconomics, Economic Development, and Economic Justice.  

His students at Randolph-Macon were fond of him, according to reviews on Rate My Professors website. Reviews from 2011 and 2010 describe him as “talented, humorous, and helpful” and “so charming.”  

“Plus,” added one reviewer in 2010, “he’s total eye candy!!”  

Brat has a Ph.D. in economics from American University which he earned in 1995. He also has a master’s in Divinity from the Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Hope College in Holland, Mich.
He wants term limits for all members of congress, he told Glenn Beck .  

In one of the odd quirks of the campaign, Brat will face another Randolph-Macon professor in the general election. His Democratic opponent, Jack Trammell, teaches sociology at the school.

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