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In shocking upset David Brat defeats House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

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RICHMOND, Va. -- A political earthquake Tuesday night after polling stations closed for Virginia’s primary elections.

The No. 2 Republican in the House, Eric Cantor, lost his primary to a college professor and political neophyte. Cantor, House Majority Leader, was running for an eighth term in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, against Tea-Party backed economics professor David Brat.

Cantor has only faced a primary opponent twice before, and he was a favorite among Tea Partiers in 2010. Cantor conceded the race with 97% of precincts reporting from the Richmond-area district. Cantor trailed David Brat 55% to 44%, according to the State Board of Election's website. Turnout was low. 

Brat's victory came as a surprise for many reasons. One is that a candidate hasn't beaten a majority leader in a century -- since 1899.  Also, Cantor raised  five million more than Brat. Election data shows that Brat raised $206,663, compared to Cantor's $5,447,290.

Brat won Goochland County, Hanover County, Henrico County, Louisa County, New Kent County, and Chesterfield County. Cantor won Richmond City, Spotsylvania County, Orange County, and Culpeper County--by 57 votes.

Brat began his victory speech, held at an Innsbrook office, with a Bible quote, that he said he read for inspiration everyday. He also praised the grassroots movement that worked diligently to help him win the primary.

"Thank you, thank you so much for everything you did," he said, as he noted the shoe leather and sweat that went into his victory.

"It's not about David Brat winning tonight, it's about returning the country to its principles," Brat said.

"Obviously we came up short," Eric Cantor said to a crowd of his supporters at the Westin Hotel in the near West End.  Cantor insiders told CBS that they had hoped to win by 30 points. Immediately after his  concession speech Cantor left the hotel.

Immediately after Cantor exited the room, a group of political demonstrators stormed in, waving a flag and shouting. Several skirmishes occurred during the uproar. Someone in the group, CASA De Virginia, had their glasses forcibly knocked off. Plates of food were pushed and protesters were also pushed around; one Cantor supporter was put in a choke hold. At this time it doesn't seem as though any arrests were made.

CNN Crossfire host Newt Gingrich credited that a large part of Cantor's constituency in Virginia's reliably conservative 7th Congressional District concluded that he wasn't listening and rose up to toss him out.

Cantor, he said, had a "great record" and was a hard worker in Congress. He added that Cantor was extremely smart and could still have a bright political future.

Brat is an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College outside Richmond.

Most Republicans view Cantor, 51, as the most conservative member in the House leadership lineup.

He was President Barack Obama's chief foil in budget negotiations in 2011, a role he proudly points out during this campaign season.

In a phone interview with CNN on Monday, Brat argued that Cantor was more attentive to donors in New York and California and big business groups than he is to enacting an agenda based on Republican ideals.

"While he's got an eye on the speaker job, he's turned his back on his constituents," Brat said.

He noted that Cantor and other GOP leaders have dropped their free market principles and not done enough to address looming deficit problems.

Brat attempted to frame his challenge as another case of a grassroots conservative taking on the GOP establishment, a major theme in Republican contests this year.

He has tried to make immigration reform the central issue, and said Cantor's position would hurt the economy.

Brat said Cantor's campaign ads have actually helped elevate his name ID and predicted he would win.

"On Tuesday you're going to have a shock on your hands," he predicted

Brat will meet Democrat Jack Trammell in November, also a professor at Randolph-Macon. Trammell was nominated at a party convention.

Brat recently appeared on CBS 6 News at 7 on Monday night to reach undecided voters ahead of the election.

"If ever there was any doubt, tonight's results prove that extremists have taken over the Virginia Republican Party,Eric Cantor tried to cater to hard-core conservatives, but he failed. Ed Gillespie wants to do this too, and it won't sit well with Virginians," said Mayor Dwight Jones, chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. "I invite all mainstream Virginians to join Democrats in electing moderate leaders to Congress this November."

***CNN Wire reports contributed to this report.***


  • Arbitrary Guy

    First impression of Dave Brat, not bad. He seems to understand math and how an economy can’t incur debt ad infinitum without consequence.

  • manalishi

    “Most Republicans view Cantor, 51, as the most conservative member in the House leadership lineup.” My a**. If the house majority leader was a conservative, Obama, Holder, Hillary (cankles), Jarrett, and a slew of others would be in jail for treason! Brat needs to go rabid on democrats natural born corruption and complete lack of values.

  • MikeC

    Eric, When you espouse certain principles to get elected and then check them out the door to “get along” with your opposition across the aisle, sometimes people pay attention. I’m a long time Republican who has almost voted exclusively Republican but I have held my nose of late to pull the lever for our candidates. I can’t distinguish them from the Democratic party, which I feel is trying it’s best to bring down our republic one day at a time. The Republican party has joined the Democratic party mocking what I consider to be true patriots of keeping the country truly free for everyone. Yes, the TEA party. I’m a lover of history and the current Republican leadership has veered far away from our founding fathers plan for our country. The Democratic party left that course long ago. The only hope is to purge the party of people without principle. Now I hope David Brat will be the conservative he confesses to be…or I will use my vote to change him. P.S. The Republican party should stop allowing people out of the party to vote in primaries. I’m sure the left leaners in VA helped show you the door also! Adios muchacho

  • Namla

    from the looks of it in the video, it was the liberal CASA immigration reform people who stormed Cantor’s campaign headquarters and so why has there been not a single comment about that? The raucous shoving, pushing, and even choking of a female protestor… not one single word said about this “civilized” behavior? The whole thing appeared to be an exercise in poor judgement and brutish behavior from both sides. Odd that no one else thought so.

    • manalishi

      CASA and amnesty supporters need to be roughed up a bit. We have the resources to send 25 million illegals and their larvae back until they fill out the proper paperwork,,, starting with a work visa.

      • Namla

        agreed, but there was no need for this uncivilized display. But from what I saw, the CASA people were the instigators and provocateurs. The word “violent” comes to mind.

  • Ron Melancon

    I have made it no secret that Congressman Cantor has ignored I became a person on a mission and I told him and he never called me back. So will they start to believe that I am trying to save lives or does he still have the power to keep sending visitors to see me and tell me to give up saving lives


    And yet the ene-media tells us that 62% of the country favors amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.

    • Namla

      well, you are the only person on here so far that has had the courage to say these people acted like animals. That they did. I would say more like a pack of dogs fighting over a piece of meat.

  • Cyndie Harper- Williams

    If the people in the Media would actually do some homework, they would realize that Cantor’s loss was not about the Tea Party. It was about people being sick and tired of Political Players who are more interested in the voices of their financial backers and Party ideologies than actually listening to all the people in their home districts. The People in the 7CD have spoken, yes. Money will not buy our Democracy!

  • Anne

    I, too, requested communication with Eric Cantor as a supporter of his campaign with no response from his office, secretary, assistant, etc. Even though he is a very busy and important national figure courtesy was expected. But, since I am Nobody with little or no money to contribute I was not worth the time that it would take for contact and communication. I am very disturbed by the Mayor Jones of Richmond describing the voters that have elected Mr. Bratt as “extremists” rather than Americans voicing their opinions in a lawful manner. This from a man who is extemely forcing his agenda down the throats of Richmonders – is that not extremism? If it is truly extreme then semantics be damned and the rights and will of the people should be exercised and recognized by all “Politicians” who hide behind their claim to be for the country. You can fool some, some of the time; all some of the time; but, not all all of the time. Nobody thinks time may be up for a lot who truly stand for nothing except their own pockets.

  • Mo Fiscal conservatism

    It’s funny, reading most of these comments trashing Eric Cantor. I didn’t vote for him either, but I am willing to bet without “Google” most of you don’t know anything about him. Besides what you read in headlines. lol
    Again, there’s nothing funnier than confident, stupid people.

  • Daniel Beasley

    Dave Bratt, already avoiding question’s. He ‘s learned the game fast for an outsider. lol

    • manalishi

      It’s a toss up, I wouldn’t save a MSM reporter if they were drowning. Its a wisdom issue, some have it, some don’t. But he will have to walk a special line until the mid-term. He’ll just have to hold his nose and choose his words.

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