Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Randolph-Macon College Professor Dave Brat.
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
In a major political upset, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been defeated in the Virginia Republican primary by a Tea Party-backed challenger who has never held public office.
After 13 years in the House of Representatives, Cantor was ousted by Randolph-Macon College economics professor David Brat in the 7th Congressional District Republican primary contest on Tuesday.
In the final returns, Brat had 36,000 votes (55.5 percent). Cantor had just under 29,000 votes (44.5 percent).
There was an indescribable amount of excitement at the Brat party headquarters. The Republican nominee thanked his supporters, family, friends and God.
"It's not about Dave Brat winning tonight. It's about returning the country to constitutional principles," Brat said in his acceptance speech. "This is a miracle from God that just happened."
The Randolph-Macon professor started as an unknown, but as he campaigned in Virginia's 7th District, Brat gained major support from Tea Party members and Libertarians.
"This is the greatest night that happened ever since Barack Obama became President, and we hope to continue it to happen," said Brat supporter George Kraynak.
Brat won, even though he raised only $200,000, compared to Cantor, who brought in $2 million.
"Dollars do not vote. You do." Brat said.
Many of Brat's supporters believe Tuesday night's win sends a message to all Washington, D.C. politicians.
"Cantor has not held a town hall in his district in years," said Brat supporter Debbie Wetlaufer. "It's time they listen to the people; we're done and we've had enough."
"We're fed up and it's time for change while there's still hope," said Brat supporter David Amstutz.
"Washington knows what's wrong with Washington," said Kraynak. "They don't need me to tell them what's wrong with it. Just look at the budget."
Brat promised the crowd that when he goes to Washington, "we [referring to his constituents] will cast votes. I won't cast the vote."
This is a big upset for Cantor, as he was favored to win the election.
"I'm totally shocked," said Cantor supporter Rev. Rene Rice. "A little hurt, a little disappointed. Disappointed."
Cantor's supporters just couldn't believe that the powerful House majority leader lost in the primary election.
"Representative Eric Cantor was the epitome of our party," said Cantor supporter Myrtle Thurman. "He did things in Washington that we didn't think he was going to get done. He realized that to make things work, sometime means we are going to have to cross party lines as learn to work together. So hurt and disappointed."
Cantor didn't see this coming either; he thanked his supporters and quickly left what should have been a victory party. Shortly after Cantor left, protestors, whom many thought were Democrats, took over and started chanting.
"[Brat] did not seem to spend as much money, but yet got a better turn out than Eric Cantor did," said Cantor supporter William Belcher. "That's what it all comes down to. Politics is local. It is what it is and unfortunately for Eric, his reign comes to an end."