The man who ended Eric Cantor: Dave Brat’s unusual traits as professor make him a promising congressional candidate

Dave Brat

Robert Thomas is an alumnus of Randolph-Macon College, Class of 2011, where he completed his B.A. in Economics/Business and Philosophy. He currently resides and works in Arlington, VA and is pursuing an M.A. in Philosophy with a concentration in Ethics and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

Dave Brat’s name has been splashed across national media headlines ever since his upset primary victory over Eric Cantor. Most of the coverage has focused on speculation about the reasons for his electoral success, what it means for national political trends, and its impact on the House Republican leadership structure.

By contrast, little ink has been spilled and few keyboards have clattered with discussion about what to actually expect from him as a prospective congressman, and what he might achieve within the House. Maybe a firsthand perspective can help fill that gap.

Over the course of four years as a student at Randolph-Macon College, I had a chance to get to know Dave Brat well before his appearance on the national political stage. He was my professor in my studies in economics, my supervisor in my work as a student assistant with the Department of Economics and Business, and, alongside his colleague Ed Showalter, my coach as a member of Randolph-Macon’s team in the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges’ annual Ethics Bowl competition.

Across those four years and many experiences, I came to know him well and to respect him deeply.

As a professor with distinct conservative and libertarian leanings teaching courses on subjects like economics and ethics, it was a rare moment when he didn’t have a clear position on the topic of the day’s lecture, but he always pushed students to understand competing points of view and the arguments behind them.

Eric Cantor is rewarded by Wall Street cronies: Ex-House leader lands a cushy new job at an investment bank

Don’t you shed a tear for Eric Cantor. The recently defeated and now retired ex-House Majority Leader has, as predicted, landed what sounds like a pretty sweet gig working for Moelis & Company, a Wall Street investment firm:

“Eric has proven himself to be a pro-business advocate and one who will enhance our boardroom discussions with CEOs and senior management as we help them navigate their most important strategic decisions,” the firm’s founder, Ken Moelis said in a statement.

Cantor is signing on with the boutique investment bank as a vice chairman and managing director, the company said. He will also be elected to its board of directors. The firm said Cantor will “provide strategic counsel to the firm’s corporate and institutional clients on key issues. He will play a leading role in client development and advise clients on strategic matters.”

The Cost of Incumbency: Eric Cantor is soliciting donations from Republican lawmakers to bailout his campaign account

Eric Cantor

Raising money for your campaign is difficult. A serious candidate for Congress must spend hours on the phone, prostrating him or herself before high-dollar donors for a few thousand dollars. It’s an incredibly humbling process.

It’s even more humbling if you’ve already lost the election for which you’re raising money. Candidates sometimes go into debt before an election, hedging their bets that they’ll make it across the finish line. Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t.

Eric Cantor lost his Republican primary in early June to a long-shot, grassroots-backed economist. But not before he’d hedged his bets against Dave Brat. POLITICO reports:

Eric Cantor’s stunning primary defeat is leaving his campaign in a financial bind.

The Virginia Republican’s political operation has asked his House GOP colleagues to cut checks so he can wind down his once-powerful campaign committee, as well as pay his campaign staffers and cover any other related costs stemming from his stunning defeat last month.

Under federal law, Cantor would also have to repay any funds meant for the general election spent during his unsuccessful primary campaign battle against fellow Republican Dave Brat. Since he lost and has no general election in November, Cantor would be required to return those general-election contributions to the donors.

Several lawmakers and GOP aides said Cantor needs to raise upwards of $150,000 to shut down his campaign committee, perhaps far more.

Cantor Upset: Dave Brat won big by running against the crony Republican establishment

Eric Cantor loses to pro-market challnger

Big Business Republicans are losing a top ally in Congress. Last night’s surprise thumping of Eric Cantor by conservative-backed economics professor Dave Brat sent shockwaves through Washington.

POLITICO took note of Brat’s campaign messaging in late April:

The central theme of Brat’s campaign is that Cantor is beholden to business — specifically the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.

“If you’re in big business, Eric’s been very good to you, and he gets a lot of donations because of that, right?” Brat said at [a local Republican Party meeting]. “Very powerful. Very good at fundraising because he favors big business. But when you’re favoring artificially big business, someone’s paying the tab for that. Someone’s paying the price for that, and guess who that is? You.”

In another piece about this race, POLITICO called Cantor the “darling of big Wall Street donors, the K Street business types and the Republican establishment” who had a “26-to-1 cash advantage” over his challenger. Who funded Cantor’s campaign? The second POLITICO piece reports:

Cantor’s top five campaign contributors were Blackstone Group, Scoggin Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, Altria Group and Charmer Sunbelt Group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which takes into account both political action committee donations and employee contributions.

Eric Cantor just lost his seat in the House to a Tea Party challenger

Dave Brat has defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) for the Republican nomination in Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Brat holds a nearly 7,100-vote lead over Cantor, in what will almost certainly be considered a referendum on immigration reform as well as a huge upset for the Republican establishment.

There have been rumors that Republicans would bring immigration reform to the floor for a vote, likely this summer. Though Cantor said he opposed the Senate version of the bill, Brat hammered him on the issue throughout the campaign.

Tonight’s results are a shock. No one expected that Brat, an economics professor, would pose a serious threat to Cantor. But the Majority Leader’s campaign had taken as an unusually negative tone in recent weeks for a race that wasn’t supposed to be on anybody’s radar.

Brat’s primary victory is truly a testament to the grassroots. He raised only $206,663 since he began his campaign in January and reported $83,870 in cash-on-hand at the end of the first quarter. Cantor, however, boasted $5.4 million in campaign contributions and had $1.5 million on-hand.

Republicans can run and win with a new message: separate big business and state

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was rebuked this weekend by grassroots conservative activists in his home district. He wasn’t just booed by the local party base, Cantor’s pick for Virginia Seventh District Republican chairman was defeated by a Tea Party-backed activist:

Just a few miles from his family home, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) felt the wrath of the tea party Saturday, when activists in his congressional district booed and heckled the second-most powerful House Republican.

They also elected one of their own to lead Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Republican Committee, turning their back on Cantor’s choice for a post viewed as crucial by both tea party and establishment wings in determining control of the fractured state GOP.

Former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling, pushed out of last year’s governor’s race by a similar party schism, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the results of the vote, in which longtime Cantor loyalist and incumbent Linwood Cobb was unseated by tea party favorite Fred Gruber.

“Clearly, there is a battle taking place for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Bolling said in a statement. “While the voice of every Republican should be heard, our challenge is to figure out how to be a conservative party, without allowing the most extreme voices of the day to control our party and determine its future direction.”
The tea party faction trumpeted the election results as a victory for core conservative principles of limited government, low taxes and a free-market economy.

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