The commentary on David Brat’s victory over Eric Cantor in VA-7 has been predictable, mostly off point and occasionally flat-out untrue. Even though a Majority Leader had lost in a primary as many times as the earth failed to revolve around the sun, I was not very surprised by this. I am far more surprised by Speaker Boehner and Sen. McConnell’s primary victories.
I had the benefit of hearing Mr. Brat speak several times and have paid close attention to Majority Leader Cantor’s actions, particularly since 2008. This outcome was clearly a matter of constituents paying more attention to what was being done by their representative than said by him. The fact that Cantor and the establishment poked the cage of conservatives far too often and flagrantly, was likely the difference between him just losing and the ultimate lopsided result.
Having also participated in the Virginia Convention to select the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate this past weekend, I know there is a healthy appetite for candidates that will defend the entire U.S. Constitution, believe in smaller government and the Reagan-era Republican platform. That was evidenced by Shak Hill securing 38% of the vote to the establishment candidate Ed Gillespie’s 61%, despite having a $77 thousand to $2.9 million campaign contribution disadvantage and being outspent nearly six to one.
Dave Brat’s landslide over Eric Cantor may have just come down to enough people in VA-7 looking for a principled Republican than a politician with some Republican principles and a strong willingness to work hard through all of the distractions to get what they wanted. I am glad to see such strides back toward a constitutionally-grounded representative government taking place within the Republican party.