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David Brat’s ‘miracle’ victory in Virginia

"David Brat’s ‘miracle’ victory in Virginia" Continued...

“Congratulations to Dave Brat, and to the local Tea Party activists who helped propel him over the top in this crucial contest,” Martin added. “This is the people’s house and we are reclaiming it for the people.”

There is still more at stake during this election year for the tea party. While establishment candidates in places like Kentucky fended off tea party challengers, tea party candidate Chris McDaniel forced Mississippi incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran into a runoff set for late June. While Brat’s win in Virginia was the highlight of Tuesday’s primaries, results in other states show that not all established GOP party members are endangered: Sen. Lindsey Graham won the South Carolina Republican primary, avoiding a runoff by besting six tea party challengers.

Richard Viguerie, the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, a conservative web publication that takes on big-government Republicans, believes the victory of tea party candidates like Brat heralds the slow demise of Republican big-spenders.

“The American voters are just so angry at Washington, D.C., that no one is safe anymore,” Viguerie said. “It sends a message to Washington that business as usual is no longer acceptable.”

Attention now turns to other Republican primaries, including one in Kansas where GOP Sen. Pat Roberts is facing tea party challenger Milton Wolf.

“Eric Cantor isn’t the only incumbent from Virginia who is going to lose his primary this year,” Wolf said Tuesday, referring to questions about Roberts’ residency. “On August 5th, it’s Pat Roberts’ turn.”

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the block of conservative lawmakers will feel strengthened in the aftermath of Cantor’s defeat. House Republicans will now speculate over who could be the next House speaker if John Boehner, the current speaker, retires from the post. Cantor, as the second ranking Republican in the House, was considered a possible successor.

“Eric Cantor and I have been through a lot together,” Boehner said in a statement Tuesday night. “He’s a good friend and a great leader, and someone I’ve come to rely upon on a daily basis as we make the tough choices that come with governing.”

Democrats, on the other hand, worked quickly Tuesday night to portray the Virginia results as proof that the Republican Party is too extreme.

“As far as the midterms elections are concerned, it’s a whole new ballgame,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Voter turnout in the primary was up compared to the 2012 primary. While 47,000 voted in 2012, 65,000 voted Tuesday. Showing how fast the landscape has changed, Cantor won his primary two years ago with 79 percent of the vote. But the results might not have been a total surprise. Cantor learned his reelection bid would not be as easy as previous elections when, during the district’s Republican convention in May, the audience booed him for saying Brat’s earlier speech was full of inaccuracies.

With additional reporting from Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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