David Brat launched himself as the tea party's new star when he defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Tuesday in the biggest primary upset in recent memory. Here are five facts about the man who will run for the GOP in Virginia's 7th district:
1. His campaign budget was tiny compared to Cantor's war chest
In terms of fundraising this contest made David and Goliath look like an even fight. Cantor raised almost $5.5 million during the cycle, more than 25 times the amount of Brat’s shoestring budget of $200,000, a third of which came from small contributions, according to opensecrets.org.
In fact, Cantor spent more on steak houses than Brat did in his entire campaign. This divide extended to their respective campaign teams, with Brat eschewing the large and experienced group of staffers used by the incumbent in favor of a skeleton crew and grassroots campaigning.
2. He is a college economics professor - and a very dedicated one at that
Brat gained a Ph.D. in economics at the American University in Washington, D.C., before going on to work as an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, a liberal arts college north of Richmond, Va.
So dedicated is he to his profession that he canceled a packed schedule of meetings with key conservative activists in May because he had papers to grade.
"He had school stuff to take care of," his 23-year-old campaign manager Zachary Werrell told the Washington Post. His Democrat challenger in the staunch-Republican district is Jack Trammell, also a professor at Randolph-Macon.
3. He beat Cantor on immigration reform
Immigration became the focus of much of the debate in the campaign, with Brat painting Cantor as an advocate of amnesty for immigrants living illegally in the U.S. This forced a change in tone for the incumbent, who has repeatedly said he supports giving citizenship to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
Steve Helber / AP
Brat displays an immigration mailer by Cantor during a press conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., in May.
The Associated Press reported that in response Cantor boasted in mail-outs that he had blocked Senate plans to "to give illegal aliens amnesty." But it was not enough, and he was punished for what critics from the right see as step-by-step approach that was too often vague on the details.
4. He believes God was responsible for his victory
"This is a miracle from God that just happened," Brat said, according to the AP.
He went one further in an interview with Fox News, which was reported by the Wall Street Journal, claiming that "God acted through people on my behalf - it's an unbelievable miracle."
Before obtaining his economics doctorate, Brat, a Catholic, received a Masters in Divinity at Princeton, a course designed to “prepare students for the parish ministry [and] mission work at home and abroad," according its website.
Brat is anti-abortion and says he will always uphold laws to protect human life. These laws, he says, "come from God, the Author of Nature."
5. He fiercely opposes any form of gun control
Another issue about which Brat feels strongly is the Second Amendment. In keeping with the views of many tea party supporters, he says he will "oppose any back door attempts to confiscate guns or create a national gun registry."
On his "issues" page on his website, he adds: "All too frequently the knee jerk reaction to tragedies by the media and chattering class is to move to restrict our rights...Our founding documents make it clear that our inalienable rights come from God and that the job of the government is to ensure and protect those God given rights."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published June 11 2014, 1:42 AM