RICHMOND, Va. ― Republican Dave Brat followed his stunning primary victory over then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by easily beating his Democratic opponent Tuesday to win the congressional seat.
Brat defeated Jack Trammell by a wide margin in central Virginia’s heavily Republican 7th District. Brat and Trammell are professors at Randolph-Macon College at nearby Ashland. Libertarian James Carr finished a distant third.
In June, Brat rode a wave of tea party support to an upset over Cantor, who was the second-ranking member of the House of Representatives. Cantor was in his seventh term and was widely considered a likely successor to House Speaker John Boehner. He resigned in August and took a job with a New York investment bank.
Voters in the district had to cast two ballots ― one to fill the remainder of Cantor’s unexpired term, the other for the full term beginning in January. Brat won both handily.
“This seat belongs to you, the people,” Brat told supporters in his victory speech at a suburban Richmond hotel. “Hold me accountable. Help me ― and I think you will ― help me to hold Washington accountable so we can get this amazing country back on track.”
It will be the first public office for Brat, whose only previous campaign was a failed bid for the GOP nomination for a state House of Delegates seat.
Trammell said he faced long odds because of the district’s political makeup.
“I think that’s one of the key takeaways, that this district is so gerrymandered it’s going to be hard for a Democrat to win here,” Trammell said in a telephone interview moments after he called Brat to congratulate him. He said Brat also benefited from the national spotlight after knocking off Cantor.
Trammell, a sociology professor, did not rule out another run for public office.
Brat acknowledged in a telephone interview that the GOP-friendly made his task easier, but he said “we outperformed the Republican advantage by quite a bit” by attracting support from outside the party. He added that he would like to believe “the clarity of ideas” also had something to do with his success.
During the general election campaign for Congress, Brat trumpeted his opposition to most of President Barack Obama’s policies, including health care overhaul and less restrictive immigration rules. He also emphasized his experience as an economics professor, suggesting he would be the best choice to help rein in federal spending and improve the nation’s economy. He pledged to work for “a fair and flat tax.”
Trammell defended some of Obama’s policies. However, he sought to overcome the president’s sagging popularity in Virginia by reminding voters that Obama was not on the ballot and by portraying himself as a bipartisan consensus-builder.