The Biggest Tea Party Win of 2014

Brat Upsets CantorIf anyone thought the Tea Party movement or candidates were going away anytime soon – well, think again. In the biggest upset of the 2014 primary season, economics professor and Tea Party candidate Dave Brat defeated the second most powerful Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

With just over 65,000 total votes cast in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, Brat received 55.6% of the vote while Cantor garnered 45.4%.

What makes this result so surprising isn’t just because Cantor was the Number 2 Republican in the House… but the underdog was at a big financial disadvantage. Cantor raised over $5.4 million and spent over $5 million in this race, while Brat received $200,000 in contributions and spent only $122,000. When one candidate outspends his opponent 25-to-1 in a Congressional primary, the under-funded candidate’s chances of winning are just about zero.

How did a little-known underdog pull the biggest political upset in recent history? Many voters believed that Cantor became more interested in corporate donors, Beltway insiders and the Washington lifestyle instead of the voters in his home district. A campaign finance report revealed by NBC confirmed this suspicion. Through May 21, Cantor’s campaign spent $168,637 at two steakhouses – Bobby Van’s Steakhouse and BLT Steak – which was more than Brat spent on the entire race.

And how Cantor’s aides treated fellow conservatives didn’t help either. A source told Erick Erickson of that his staff in Washington were the “biggest bunch of a**holes on the Hill.” Cantor lost the trust of conservatives and constituents alike, and was focused more on replacing John Boehner as Speaker of the House than staying in touch with voters in his district.

Because he was the second most powerful Republican in the House, Cantor and his team developed the attitude that he was unbeatable. This arrogance and pride eventually led to his political fall.

Despite the lack of financial and other support from larger Tea Party groups, Brat had the backing of smaller, local and motivated Tea Party groups in his district. Brat was also endorsed by national talk show hosts Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Glenn Beck.

But Cantor’s biggest mistake may have been pushing for immigration reform in Congress instead of attempting to roll back ObamaCare. Talk show host Laura Ingraham campaigned for Brat in his district and blasted Cantor on this issue, saying: “He’s all in for amnesty.”

This Tea Party win is by far the biggest one in 2014. It could be the “shot heard round the political world” with lasting effects for years to come. Time will tell, but it sure looks good today.