David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, is hoping to play the role of David to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Goliath in this June’s Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. But he’s got his work cut out for him.
Although when he jumped in the race he said was hoping for financial backing from top players in the conservative world, that hasn’t panned out yet. Brat has just $50,000 cash on hand, he said in an interview, a pittance compared to the $1.9 million Cantor had in the bank at the end of 2013.
Still, Brat allies won a significant proxy battle at a recent local GOP event in Henrico, Va, repelling an attempt by establishment Republican to limit who could attend upcoming conventions.
And Brat himself remains optimistic. “Every grassroots organization I know of in the district, from Tea Parties to libertarians to constitutionalists, is behind me,” he told Breitbart News.
A libertarian-leaning economist of the Chicago school, Brat is working to paint Cantor as compromised by “crony capitalism.”
The United States has been successful economically, Brat said, because “everyone is treated equally under the law.” But under the policies of the last few years, “we’re ruining it.”
He also hit Cantor for attending a tropical summit this past weekend organized by a group working to destroy the Tea Party.
“The way you win is if your opponent goes on the record…at Amelia Island meeting with George Soros financed groups and PACs, and they’re stripping conservatives off state and local committee,” Brat said. “Then all of a sudden you have a race….The problem is no one hears about this.”
In response to Brat’s comments on a variety of topics that came up in his interview, Ray Allen, Cantor’s top political hand in Virginia, was unsparing in his criticism.
“The professor does not understand how the Republican party of Virginia works,” he told Breitbart News on Friday.
“The overwhelming vast majority of Republicans in the 7th district support Eric Cantor. The professor supports excluding active duty military personnel from voting in Republican nominations contests. Eric Cantor supports welcoming active duty military into our party’s nomination process,” Allen said.
For, Brat “understanding how the Republican party of Virginia works” is simply another way of saying that Eric Cantor has a powerful political machine behind him. Brat claims that fear of retribution from that machine has kept contributors away from his campaign. “Many donors are too scared to go on the record [to make a donation to my campaign],” he said.
Allen retorted that “the reason the professor can’t raise money is because he lacks any significant support in the 7th district,” he told Breitbart News on Friday.
Brat believes that a highly motivated network of volunteers will be more effective at winning votes than the $1.9 million and counting Cantor has available to spend on television, radio, direct mail, and social media.
“I am running a 100 percent ground game,” Brat said. “300 or 400 volunteers are actually walking and making phone calls for my campaign across the nine counties in the district.” The Brat campaign is using a get-out-the-vote software program called RVotes, which Brat said “is working out well.”
Brat is not without outside help. A new Super PAC, VA Vision Action PAC, recently began running radio ads in the district opposing Cantor and supporting Brat.
Brat noted that Cantor is working to grant amnesty to illegal alien DREAMers who enlist in the military.
“This week the breaking news is Cantor was trying to push [amnesty legislation] through the Defense Authorization bill,” Brat said. “If he gets that in, it allows the Senate to go through with that language… once you allow DREAM Act kids in , the thing we ought to do next is put them in the military.”
Cantor’s spokesman Allen disputed Brat’s statement. “Congressman Cantor has repeatedly said he opposes the Senate immigration bill and their amnesty efforts and will not allow any House bill to be hijacked by liberal Senate Democrats,” he told Breitbart News on Friday. “Pro-amnesty forces have been continually protesting Mr. Cantor because of his opposition to the Senate-passed amnesty bill.”
But Cantor does support the policy, Allen added. “Mr. Cantor views military service as the highest service one can perform for our nation and if a young man or woman was brought to this country as a child and knows no other home and wants to serve our nation in uniform, he supports making that possible.”
A native of Alma, Michigan, Brat attended Hope College, obtained a Masters in Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and has a Phd. in economics from American University.
Many libertarian influenced candidates, like Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul, subscribe fully to the Austrian School of Economics exemplified by the works Ludgwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. As a professional economist, Brat says “the Austrians are pure theory with no data. I like them. The Road to Serfdom [by Hayek] is on the money.” But Brat does not consider himself a proponent of the Austrian school. “If you had to peg me, I’m close to the Milton Friedman, Chicago School,” he told Breitbart News.
Brat served as the chairman of the Economics Department at Randolph-Macon, and currently teaches a course on the moral foundations of capitalism, made possible by a grant from business executive John Allison. Brat told Breitbart News that this course is vitally important because our educational system and media currently create the impression that capitalism is morally inferior to “non-profits.”
To Brat, this is entirely backwards, and he cites recent developments in China as evidence. “Currently China is feeding 1.2 billion people for the first time in human history,” he said. “There’s only reason to explain that. [Their move towards] free market capitalism.”