Randolph-Macon professor Dave Brat’s victory tonight in the 7th district congressional race surprised few -- especially those gathered at his victory rally who had supported him against one of the most powerful politicians in the country.
Sitting on the steps to the stage just before Brat announced his win at the Short Pump Hilton, Anne Hayes said she had supported Brat when the odds seemed long. Back in June, Hayes was eager to support the upstart economics professor who decided to take on seven-term House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
“He’s an excellent human being, and he’s very smart,” Hayes said. “We’ve got a lot of hopes pinned on him.”
Following Brat’s June Republican primary win, Democrat and fellow Randolph-Macon professor Jack Trammell tried to close the gap in a heavily Republican district while Libertarian James Carr put in his own challenge. Brat carried 61 percent of the vote Tuesday in the general election and won a special election that will put him in office ahead of the next term.
Taking the stage, Brat asked: “Do you think we made Patrick Henry proud?"
Thanking God, his family and campaign volunteers, Brat ended with a call to constituents to help hold himself and his colleagues accountable, “so we can get this amazing country back on track."
Virginia Commonwealth University political science professor Deirdre Condit said Brat will face steep challenges when he arrives in Congress. Amid calls for redistricting, she said, the 7th district boundaries may change in the 2016 race.
“It will be a rough couple of years for him,” Condit said. “The reelection campaign will begin the day after tomorrow.”