Dave Brat toppled the GOP establishment, now he’s asking Alabama to help him do it again
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Virginia Congressman Dave Brat made international headlines in 2014 when he defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary. On Friday, Brat came to the Yellowhammer State to highlight his teamwork with some of Alabama’s most conservative members of Congress.
Brat and Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL6) sat down for an in-studio interview with Yellowhammer Radio host Cliff Sims to discuss the current climate in DC, some of the hottest political topics of the day, and the 2016 Presidential race.
Brat has become a favorite among populist conservatives and a constant target of the Republican establishment since his stunning electoral victory last year.
During his hotly contested race against Cantor, Brat was outspent 40-to-1, with the incumbent spending millions in his losing campaign.
“He spent $4 million calling me a liberal professor,” Brat explained, “and everyone in the region is scratching their heads saying ‘I don’t get it.’ It took a few months but people voted my way.”
Rep. Brat said the biggest surprise since coming into office has been how nice everyone is to him in Washington—until it comes time to vote.
“The biggest shocker is everyone has been sincerely nice to me,” he said. “I was shocked at it. I work out with the Democrats, lift weights, get along with people personally. With leadership I thought, ‘Hey I took out Eric, there will be some friends of Eric’s that might take it to me,’ Nothing.
“But that doesn’t take away from the fact that when it’s voting time that’s a totally different story,” Rep. Brat continued. “All the special interests and all the forces in the world come down on your shoulders, and if you’re not up there, you cannot imagine what that feels like; it’s gets pretty potent.”
One of the issues that separated Brat and Cantor the most during the campaign was immigration. Cantor was an outspoken supporter of the Senate’s Gang of 8 bill, which was reviled by immigration hawks. Though the bill was ultimately unsuccessful, his constituents’ displeasure with it resonated strongly at the ballot box the following November.
Brat said immigration can be a litmus test, because there are only yes and no answers.
“It’s the one where you can’t hide under the table, it’s kind of a yes or no answer,” he said. “On taxes you could say I’m going to vote for this, I’m in favor of this roughly, but you’re never held to account. But you say any word on immigration policy and you’re either for or against the whole array of issues that come up. Politicians can’t hide on it. I said back then it is the most important symbolic issue that separated us because he couldn’t hide.”
“Since (my election), thanks to Trump and Laura Ingraham, and Senator Jeff Sessions, and Gary (Palmer) and all these folks that work on that issue, now the substantive pieces come into play; there are real national security threats, there are real economic threats, everyone is paying the tax bill and so none of that was known…. A lot of this was hidden from the voters’ sight, and now they’re finding out the true tax bill they’re paying to support [illegal immigrants].”
Though he hasn’t endorsed any candidate, Brat said he believes the 2016 presidential race, and the issues currently being debated in the public forum, will provide conservative members of Congress some backup in the fight against the out of control tax and spend policies of the federal government.
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump, in particular, has been successful in framing the nation’s narrative thus far in the election cycle, Brat said.
“He’s unique, he’s got the business success, and he’s so big that… If the press goes after him, he goes back after the press. That’s unheard of. He’s fearless on any issue. He comes out on the biggest issues, that are the toughest ones and gives a bunch of sub-bullet points that are controversial, and is willing to go head-to-head against the most powerful forces in the country.
“The average American person says, ‘Hey, his basic thesis is we’re losing, why is the US losing? Why are we losing to China, why are we losing to Russia, why are we losing at the border to Mexico, why are our workers losing, why aren’t they getting a raise, why are we spending money on the rest of the world when we have problems here, why aren’t our kids educated?'” He continued. “So the average person just goes ‘Yeah! I want that!’ Whatever he’s going to do to fix it, you can’t get worse than the fixes that we’re doing up there in DC right now. We’re not moving heaven and earth on any of the things that effect the average American.”
Congressman David Brat will tour Bryant-Denny stadium in Tuscaloosa Saturday before speaking with the Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans and College Republican Federation of Alabama.
Brat, who will face establishment opposition in the 2016 election, said there’s a simple way conservatives can help him stay in office.
“I think the wave is spreading across the country, and so if you vote against leadership, etc. they come after you. I have a little target on my back for doing the right thing and fighting with Gary… If folks want to go to my website,www.DaveBrat.com… and throw $10 or $20 my way to keep a good conservative in his seat, I’ve got plenty of competition coming at me.”
You can listen to Yellowhammer Radio’s entire interview with Congressman David Brat in the video above.