House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia lost in a surprising upset to Tea Party backed primary challenger David Brat. Internal polling at the Cantor campaign was unbelievably skewed, showing the would-be heir to the title of Speaker of the House beating his opponent Brat by as much as 34 points.
Washington insiders were struggling to figure out what happened on Tuesday, with Rep. Steve King (R-NY) stating “I don’t know where we go now as a party. I’m very concerned that we may go all the way to the right, following Ted Cruz and the shutdown congressmen, and marginalizing us as a responsible governing party.”
Brat is an economics professor at Randolph-Macon college in Ashland, Virginia who received support from conservatives such as Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, but mostly flew under the radar on the national level. The professor teaches Third World economics and speaks glowingly about the 10th Amendment, which gives individuals and states all the rights and powers not specifically mentioned as being held by the federal government.
Brat’s Twitter page reads, “I am running for Congress to be ERIC CANTOR’S TERM LIMIT. Free Markets, Constitution, Liberty. No more Crony Capitalism!” But despite Brat’s claim to be for free markets, his victory was largely seen as a referendum on Eric Cantor’s position on illegal immigration. Cantor had supported a bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children to receive in state tuition rates at universities.
“With 50 million Americans in their working years unemployed, the last thing we should do is provide amnesty or any form of work authorization to illegal immigrants,” Brat told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Yet, Eric Cantor believes that we need to import more low-wage foreign workers at the expense of lower wages and fewer jobs for Virginia families.”
Brat separates himself from free market economists on this issue who mostly agree that consumers benefit from freedom to trade in labor. An economics professor should be better educated on how immigration, legal or otherwise, benefits a free society in many ways. Although Cantor’s loss is a win for Tea Party conservatives, Tea Party libertarians will have to keep a closer eye on the economics professor who apparently rejects free trade in labor.
Luckily for libertarians, Brat does seem to have a more freedom-minded position on the NSA. Calling bulk data collection a “disturbing violation of our Fourth Amendment rights,” his website reads, “Dave believes that the Constitution does not need to be compromised for matters of national security,” he says. “He supports the end of bulk phone and email data collection by the NSA, IRS, or any other branch of government.”