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Now It’s a Race for Cantor’s Seat … Or Is It?

Some Dems see an opening to turn Virginia’s 7th District blue, while others see it as a lost cause.

by
Rob Longley

Bio

June 16, 2014 - 12:32 am
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Talk about low-key.

Democrat Jack Trammell’s nomination for Virginia’s 7th District congressional seat was codified not in a convention hall or at the ballot box, but in a hastily arranged conference call Sunday with a handful of district committee members. The 50-year-old Trammell’s nod received little media attention inside Virginia — as of Monday, most outlets were still reporting that the district had no Democratic candidate — and next to none outside the commonwealth.

What a difference a few days makes.

The little-known college professor and author, who was to be the latest sacrificial lamb in Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) political ascension, is now the much-better-known candidate with, some say, a realistic shot at flipping Cantor’s seat to the Democrats.

The transformation is of course due to Republican Dave Brat’s stunning upset of Cantor in Tuesday’s primary. The giant-killer Brat, 49, a Tea Party fave who hammered Cantor on conservative causes, especially immigration, during the primary campaign, has become a rock star pinup for the conservative wing of the GOP in the wake of his astonishing victory.

But Democrats are well aware that beyond the newfound fame, Brat is still a political neophyte with nowhere near the name recognition, clout or money enjoyed by Cantor. That may give Trammell, who, like Brat, is a professor at Randolph-Macon College, an opening. What was supposed to be a sure seat for Republicans with the mighty Cantor on the ballot is suddenly a potentially competitive race between political novices, some Democrats say.

“We have a real chance to pick up this seat,” said one state Democratic Party official who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak about campaign strategy. “With Cantor, you had a powerful incumbent with tons of cash in a solidly Republican district. With Cantor out, we at least have a shot.”

But some analysts aren’t so sure.

“Barring some really major errors by Brat, this race shouldn’t be on the radar as a competitive race in November,” Geoffrey Skelley, a political analyst at the University of Virginia, said. “It’s difficult to see Brat losing. And because of the basic fundamentals of the district, it’s unlikely national Democrats will invest much here.”

The more likely scenario, Skelley says, is that Brat will win in November — and then “will have to fend off some serious GOP primary challengers in 2016.”

And given the well-organized Tea Party support Brat received across the central Virginia district in his unlikely win against Cantor, the Republican nominee has an added advantage in an already energized base.

But Democrats may not be willing to give Brat a pass just yet.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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No way Brat can lose UNLESS he says something appallingly dumb (Christine MacDonald, Richard Mourdock). He won't get much/any support from the RNC or CoC types (he sounds a lot like Elizabeth Warren on some issues) but he is a university man and can hopefully avoid missteps. Good luck Dave Brat.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Barring some really major errors by Brat.."

Something EVERY newsmedia outlet, local, state, and national, will do its best to make happen between now and November. Brat's "handlers" better be aware of that. And be on their guard.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let's see how much support Dave Brat gets from the Republican National Committee, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, American Crossroads (Karl Rove), the Wall Street Journal, etc. I think you will see zero support from these groups. They gave zero support to Ken Cuccinelli, preferring he lose to Terry McAuliffe so the Tea Party could be "taught a lesson" as opposed to helping a conservative. The Dave Brat contest will feature Dave Brat versus his Democrat opponent aided by big government Republicans from the RNC, RCCC, and Karl Rove who will do all they can to see that Dave Brat loses. That is a fact.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
You can bet your last penny that Brat will receive absolutely NO support from the Repub echelon. Remember '12 when two Senate seats were lost due to the GOP establishment give absolutely NO support, except to the Demidogs. How come "Life's a b!tch, and then you die" only works for common people and not those animals ruinin' OUR lives???
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
True about the GOP. I was so angry Cuccinelli did not get support. I believe it would behoove all of us to support David Brat with whatever we can affoed - if a million of us sent only $5 it would help. I like this man - another Commie Democrat will help ensure this once great nation to fall off the cliff. I am so sick of the weak, RINO ladened, cowardly Republican party who does not have the cajones to stand up for the citizens of this country against the Obama's criminal thugs that I will no longer support them - I will however support all Tea Party backed candidares. If the GOP and John McCain had not stopped Sarah Palin from speaking out against Obama in the campaign perhaps we would not be in the mess we now find outselves in.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
For sure our candidates in '08 and '12 were very "gentlemanly," preferring to let the very dangerous Obama win rather than stooping to his level.

Do we have a gutsy, brainy, conservative person who could run against, who, Hillary? And not be an obnoxious gentleman but rather a clever opponent? Reagan could beat her; he had a way about him. I'm not really seeing it in anyone else on our bench. Am I wrong? Or will one appear when the time is right?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
“I am ready to work for you,” said one Facebook post under the name Karen Elyse Peters. “I live in the 7th District and pulled the lever against Cantor. … Now I want to pull the lever for you.”

Talk about a low info voter. NOBODY knows what this Democratic challenger's positions are. Gotta love their awareness.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Democrat's positions on the campaign trail mean NOTHING. Once in office, he will do whatever his party asks him to do.

If he valued freedom, he wouldn't be a D.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is hard to get many voters to turn out just for a Congressional race. Part of it is that such races get all that much major media attention, mostly because the Congressional map doesn't mesh well with the geographic boundaries of many media markets. Part of it is that many younger and less affluent voters won't invest the time in the more local races if they expect they may be living elsewhere in a year or two.

A hot US Senate race can generate lo-info turnout because of the greater media coverage and mass turnout for a US Senate or a governor's race has been known to produce upsets in Congressional races. But I doubt if the Warner-Gillespie match up will generate all that much heat.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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