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Cantor beaten by Dave who?

Dave Brat, economics professor and Virginia's GOP nominee for Congress

Dave Brat, economics professor and Virginia’s GOP nominee for Congress

Other than being aware of all the hype surrounding Hillary Clinton, I’d not really given much thought this year to elections. Maybe the doldrums of summer dulled my political awareness. Whatever the cause, the result was I was stunned last night to hear that someone named Dave Brat had beaten Eric Cantor in Virginia’s Republican primary. The No. 2 House Republican was beaten by an unknown. And handily, too. 56% to 44%.

I knew things were getting bumpy for the Republicans, with the tea party and the old guard fighting for control. And I can’t say I’ve been unhappy to see the infighting; it’s divide and conquer for Dems without their lifting a finger. But I’d been hoping the more moderate, traditional Republicans would win out and the party would come to its senses. Instead, it seems determined to self-destruct, narrowing its base, getting more conservative, moving ever closer to a fatal plunge over the cliff of rightwing extremism.

And all this time I’ve been thinking Cantor was pretty damned conservative. I’m not thrilled to see him replaced with an economics professor and former seminary student; economic theories are great in a classroom, less so in the real world of budgets, finance, and global economies. Nor do we need more God in government from a man who wrote God and Advanced Mammon – Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism? and is working on Ethics as Leading Economic Indicator? What went Wrong? Notes on the Judeo-Christian Tradition and Human Reason. Will he keep his religion out of his lawmaking? I’ll just have to hope his Democratic opponent, also an unknown, beats him.

On a positive note, this upset does give me hope that big money and self-interest don’t completely own our political system. Not yet, anyway. Cantor had a war chest of $5.4 million. Brat raised less than $300,000.

The pundits are saying Cantor was dumped because he stopped listening to the people back home. He was too busy in Washington playing power politics and advancing his own political ambitions. That’s a message worth heeding by Republicans and Democrats alike.


  1. My first reaction was hope a la Christine McDonnell (of “I am not a witch” infamy). The Tea party lost out on that choice. What’s truly worrisome here is that Brat could easily win in a very low turnout election and we’d end up with another Ted Cruz in the Senate. Now there’s a scary thought. Read this description of Brat’s politics at HuffPo

  2. Watching the MSNBC coverage of the Brat upset this noon I did note that he has already given credit for his win to God. Who needs campaign funds when the Big Guy’s on your side?

    The ramifications of this development are huge and nobody seems confident of anything at this early date, but two possibilities are apparent. One is that this could be the start of a trend and more radicals will win GOP primaries. If so, the electorate might come to their senses in the general election and vote Democrat moderate over Republican wingnut.

    Or, on the other hand, a throw-all-the-bums-out movement could evolve and might give the Tea Party to actually seize control of both houses of Congress.

    The third possibility being discussed is that Brat’s victory is unique. However, his campaign wasn’t just based on Cantor’s political inattention to his district. Brat ran as virtually a single-issue candidate opposing immigration “amnesty”, never mind that Cantor ran an anti-immigration pamphlet program in his district. Xenophobia and religion won the day in VA. Are these two faces of the same passion? Will this become national? So many questions.

    • I’ve seen the clip several times now and still can’t get over how often and in how many ways Brat credited God for his victory. Enough to make me ill. Religious fervor like that belongs in church, not in the halls of Congress. Maybe he’ll pull a Todd Akin before the general election and the GOP will abandon him.

      Meantime, Cantor and Mitt Romney can have a nice long chat about snatching defeat from the jaws of certain victory.

  3. To me, you summed it up quite well when you said Republicans seem “determined to self-destruct, narrowing its base, getting more conservative, moving ever closer to a fatal plunge over the cliff of rightwing extremism.” William F. Buckley Jr. is no doubt groaning in his grave…

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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