As I watch the national pundits and media try and analyze the huge Dave Brat victory against Eric Cantor yesterday, it is clear that most are completely clueless about why Brat won and Cantor lost. This election was not won because of Cantor’s view on illegal immigration. It played a factor at the polls yesterday, but it was not the determining factor. Those of us who have lived in this district for over a decade and have been on the ground can tell you the real reasons Cantor lost yesterday – and it was years in the making.
10 – LOST TOUCH: There has been significant discontent in the district for years with Eric Cantor. He earned a reputation as someone who cared more about Fortune 500 companies than he did voters in his own district and he proved it by spending all his time with them and no time with the people in his district. It was baffling to many of us. When the tea party first sprung up people were angry with Cantor. I had known Cantor and Ray Allen for years and thought it was just a misunderstanding. Surely this could be resolved by opening the lines of communication and just having a meeting together for Cantor to hear our complaints so we could work together. I still remember the private meeting I had with his consultant, Ray Allen, five years ago when he told me, “Eric Cantor will never hold a town hall meeting. Over my dead body! You hear me?” Fatal mistake.
9 – IN YOUR FACE: Cantor decided to then ratchet it up another level when Cantor decided to run off to Amelia Island to help a PAC that was partially funded with labor unions and Soros money. The primary objective of Main Street PAC was to target the tea party for destruction. This really angered the tea party and fueled their discontent. Fatal mistake.
8 – UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Eric Cantor and his consultant, Ray Allen, wanted to control the Republican Party of Virginia and he was willing to use any means necessary to accomplish his goal, including slating tea party and conservatives out of the political process. He created such outrage that we removed Cantor’s 7th district chairman, Linwood Cobb, at the convention last month. We left the convention with 700 delegates that energetically and enthusiastically worked the doors and phones for Brat. It is really not smart to make enemies of your friends, and especially when you are in a primary. Fatal mistake.
7 – CONSERVATIVE MEGAPHONE: A shot out to The Bull Elephant, Sara for America, Doc Thompson, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck for getting the truth out to the public. Social media is a powerful vehicle for disseminating your message and we were able to cut through $5 million of Cantor’s false advertising. The Bull Elephant pulled the curtain back and showed what has really been going on in Virginia politics for years. I think people were shocked to read about the intentional and crooked politics that has been plaguing Virginia politics for years with Ray Allen. Cantor and Ray Allen discounted these voices on the internet and did not fully appreciate our influence and power. Fatal mistake.
6 – POLICY MATTERS: Eric Cantor thought that as long as he said the right things in slick mailers it was sufficient to gain the trust of voters. Washington DC politicians are having difficulty with the tea party curve ball – we actually look at your record now, not just your rhetoric. Further, we look to see if you are actually fighting for our issues or just casting safe votes to pacify voters. Cantor stated he was against Harry Reid’s amnesty bill, which was a cute way to skirt the fact that he opposed Reid’s bill because he supported the House bill on amnesty. Cantor was weak on spending, focused on corporate handouts to the fat cats, consistently raised the debt ceiling, supported TARP, supported the Patriot Act, rigged the Stock Act, and was weak on Obamacare – to name just a few. Cantor had bought into the idea that Washington could provide solutions for all problems. He forgot that Washington IS the problem and they actually prevent solutions. Fatal mistake.
5 – DEMOCRATS VOTED: Democrats voted in the primary yesterday. They were not the determining victory with a resounding 11 point victory, but they certainly contributed to the numbers. The irony is that Ray Allen created that monster. Ray Allen spent $5 million telling Democrats why they should come out and vote for Dave Brat by sharing a lie that Brat was a “liberal college professor” who was best friends with Democrat Tim Kaine. He spent $5 million letting raising Brat’s name ID for us and letting the grassroots know they had an alternative. Fatal mistake.
4 – VOTE SUPPRESSION: The irony is that the negative campaigning by Cantor backfired on him. Not only did he turn out Democrat votes with his ridiculous lies about Brat, but he suppressed the the enthusiasm of his own activists and volunteers in the more traditional wing of the Republican Party who were completely disgusted with Cantor’s all-negative campaign. I heard more than once, “this is so beneath the Majority Leader. I am so disappointed with him.” Fatal mistake.
3 – SEND THEM A MESSAGE: This cannot be overstated. I heard this repeatedly at the polls yesterday. People are angry and frustrated. Middle class America is struggling to make a living and local businesses are fighting to survive. They are tired about it being all about Washington DC wants. They want it to be about THEM. They want Washington DC out of their lives. They want more control of their own lives, their own pocketbooks, their own healthcare, and their own privacy. The most popular expression I heard yesterday, “We need to fire a shot across the bow of Eric Cantor and all those Washington elites.”
2 – STRONG CANDIDATE: The conservatives and tea party put up a strong candidate. A lesson should be learned here by others. Brat has an impressive resume with his PhD in economics, his seminary degree from Princeton, and his work in ethics reform and education policy. He was an intelligent and articulate candidate that brought credibility to the movement. Brat ran a positive and upbeat campaign that solely was focused on the Republican Creed. Cantor refused to engage Brat or even participate in debates with Brat. Fatal mistake.
1 – GRASSROOTS DOMINATION: This is really the number one reason for victory last night. It cannot be emphasized enough the significance of the grassroots. Literally hundreds of individuals volunteered over the last five months to door knock and phone bank for Dave Brat. I could never give all the appropriate credit to the people who deserve it, but a special shout out absolutely must go to: Nancy Smith, Anita and Mark Hile, Kim Singhas, Dale Taylor, Bob Keeler, Ken Davis, Debbie Wetlaufer, Susan Lascolette and Phil Rapp – just to name a few. This was a ground game that was not put together overnight. This was an organization of volunteers that started four years and grew stronger with each subsequent campaign. Dave Brat benefited from a strong foundation that had meticulously laid over the last four years by some amazing individuals. They are truly my heroes. No mistake here!