Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Did You Think Ken Cuccinelli And EW Jackson Were Extreme? Wait Til You Meet Brat, A Teabagger Running Against Cantor


Crazy Brat

Steve Israel, whose Long Island district has a rare 0 PVI (equally split between Democrats and Republicans) doesn't challenge any Republican leaders. All the House GOP leaders-- every single one of them-- has immunity and in return, Israel, the worst choice as a DCCC chair in history, is the only incumbent in a 0 PVI district that isn't a battleground. The RNC undermines Israel's Republican opponents, the same way Israel undermines anyone who tries to run against Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, Upton, Rogers, Camp or any senior Republican Hoiuse leader. Clearly, Pelosi had lost her marbles when she reappointed that failed Israel to a second term as DCCC chair. And now it mathematically impossible for the Democrats to take back the House in 2014. With Israel at the helm, they'll be lucky if they just hold their ground.

That said, almost all of the GOP leaders, including Boehner, NRCC Chair Greg Walden, Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions and now Majority Leader Eric Cantor, all have Tea Party primary challengers. This year, no Democrats have come forward to challenge the two top House Republicans, Boehner and Cantor. That's because the DCCC has been so unsupportive towards grassroots candidates against them in the past. Last year Wayne Powell ran against Cantor, got zero help from the DCCC (to put it mildly) and wound up raising the most any Democrat running against Cantor has ever raised, $815,546--to Cantor's $7,632,717-- and held him below 60% first the first time ever. Knowing Israel will sabotage him again, why should Powell try in 2014? It would be crazy. So Cantor gets no opponent after his closest call ever. Or, at least, no Democratic opponent. He does have a fringy teabagger he has to contend with, Dave Brat, who told the National Review "I want to be Eric Cantor's term limit."
Brat looks to have a better shot than anyone who has tried to unseat the majority leader thus far. “This is probably the first time that Eric has had a credible opponent with a comparable education and background,” says Amanda Chase, Cantor’s former political director.

She adds that defeating Cantor is difficult for a variety of reasons. For one, though some of the majority leader’s moves have rankled grassroots activists in his district, he’s highly regarded among establishment Republicans. He also has a preternatural gift for fundraising, Chase adds, and, naturally, there’s his name recognition.

That said, Brat has a few interesting factors working in his favor. First, he’s expecting support from some of the deep-pocketed outside groups that have long been frustrated with the current Republican leadership. Brat couldn’t speak on the record about which groups he has met with, but he tells NRO that the political figures and organizations that have indicated interest in his candidacy are “as big as they get.”

“I think it’s safe to say it will definitely rattle some cages when it comes out,” he says.

He tells me he intends to target Cantor for his support of the Ryan–Murray budget deal, as well as his stances on immigration reform. He’ll also go after the majority leader on the Affordable Care Act. “He hasn’t moved the ball down the field at all,” Brat says.

“He had two CRs at the end, one in favor of the shutdown and one opposed to the shutdown at the same time,” Brat continues. “And that’s fairly symbolic of unprincipled leadership. I mean, that’s not a leadership position, where you’re on Side A and Side B at the same time and you’ve got your finger up in the air, checking which way the wind is blowing.”

Brat’s background should make him especially appealing to conservative organizations. He chairs the department of economics and business at Randolph-Macon College and heads its BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism program. The funding for the program came from John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T (a financial-services company) who now heads the Cato Institute. The two share an affinity for Ayn Rand: Allison is a major supporter of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Brat co-authored a paper titled “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” Brat says that while he isn’t a Randian, he has been influenced by Atlas Shrugged and appreciates Rand’s case for human freedom and free markets.

His academic background isn’t all economics, though. Brat got a business degree from Hope College in Holland, Mich., then went to Princeton seminary. Before deciding to focus on economics, he wanted to be a professor of systematic theology and cites John Calvin, Karl Barth, and Reinhold Niebuhr as influences.

And he says his religious background informs his views on economics. “I’ve always found it amazing how we have the grand swath of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and we lost moral arguments on the major issue of our day,” he says, referring to fiscal-policy issues.

  Brat also has experience in Virginia politics. He worked as a volunteer in the office of state senator Walter Stosch from 2005 to 2012, advising him on education policy, and he has served on the Governor’s Board of Economists since he was appointed to the position in 2006 by then-governor Tim Kaine. He has campaigned for a number of Republican candidates in Virginia, including Ken Cuccinelli and Stosch, and he himself ran for the Virginia House of Delegates in a 2011 special election.

  Brat can expect backing from much of the Virginia grassroots, especially the libertarian and tea-party activists who have long been frustrated with the state party’s leaders. “It’s a big decision to fire your congressman and replace him with somebody else,” says Larry Nordvig, head of the Richmond Tea Party, “but I think people are tired of hearing the rhetoric and seeing the opposite of what they’re looking for in a conservative leader.”

He adds that there’s also frustration in grassroots circles with Cantor’s lack of responsiveness. “He is the king of form letters,” Nordvig says. “If you write to him, if you call, you get a form letter back that is obviously not addressing your issue.”

While Nordvig’s group doesn’t endorse candidates, he tells me he plans to support Brat and expects many of his members-- the bulk of whom live in Cantor’s district-- to coalesce behind him as well. He adds that Brat received a warm welcome at the last Richmond Tea Party meeting.

“There was almost a collective sigh of relief,” Nordvig says. “People were like, ‘Finally! Finally we have a solid candidate to challenge Cantor.’”

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At 11:12 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

Love Love Love seeing them eat their own.
Will this change the "what me worry?"
look on Cantor's face? I hope so.

It's a Good Day for Amerika (H/t Craig Ferguson;)

At 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pelosi's marbles were crushed to dust when she inexplicably "pledged" to some media stenographer of the empire that impeachment of Bush II was off the table. All that has followed has been true to that vacuum of leadership and integrity. (How did all that alleged hard work go on the much hoped for "release petition." I forget what particular issue of life and liberty was at stake.)

As to Brat's and other teabag supporters: they are the types who voted against the recent refusal to extend unemployment benefits since they presumably prefer to round up and gas every family below 300% of the poverty level.

John Puma

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Another extremist poised to knock out a protected GOP oligarch, and each one who does means more egg on Pelosi and Israel's faces. I'm now convinced that in today's political climate, every election is the Republicans' to lose, and they have proven themselves quite good indeed at defeating themselves even with help from the Democratic Party establishment. Case in point: Ken Cuckoo and Ew Jackson themselves.

John Puma brings up an interesting point, namely Whittaker Chambers' famous National Review book review of Atlas Shrugged, in which he summed up Rand's worldview as (embellished by me with proper Objectivist cult jargon) "To the gas chambers go, ye moral cannibals!"

At 6:14 AM, Anonymous me said...

Clearly, Pelosi had lost her marbles when she reappointed that failed Israel to a second term as DCCC chair.

You are MUCH too generous. Pelosi has been a disaster. Simply horrible.


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