Meet David Brat. He's the college professor from Henrico, Va., who with next to nothing in his campaign coffer and virtually zero political experience singlehandedly resuscitated the tea party's relevance by ousting from Congress House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
He also stands to become one of the Republican Party's biggest headaches should he win his general election bid in November.
An untested and potentially undisciplined candidate, Brat boasts all the hallmarks of the anti-establishment mouthpieces who've spent the past four years stalling any legislation that doesn't fit their anti-big government, anti-spending charter. He's gone on record saying he never actually secured much serious support from tea party groups, but his case against Cantor as a Washington insider inarguably syncs with the mantra of the insurgent conservative faction.
Less than 24 hours after his shocking upset, Brat's posing liability to the party that hoped both chambers of Congress would see a red paint job in 2014. Already lugging some incendiary baggage from prior musings in public forums - including the brazen assessment that Adolf Hitler's reign of terror "could all happen again, quite easily" - Brat on Wednesday stumbled out of the gate as he began his stint as the poster child for grassroots success.
- Eric Cantor's loss: Plenty of theories, but what does the data say?
- There's a lesson for the GOP in Eric Cantor's defeat
"Um, I don't have a well-crafted response on that one," he told MSNBC's Chuck Todd on whether he believes in minimum wage. "All I know is if you take the long-run graph over 200 years of the wage rate, it cannot differ from your nation's productivity - right? So you can't make up wage rate - right? I would love for everyone in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, or children of God, to make $100 an hour - right? I would love to just assert that that would be the case but you can't assert that unless you raise their productivity and then the wage follows."
Pressed by Todd, Brat lamented that the conversation had veered from "the celebratory aspects" of Tuesday's election results: "I love all the policy questions - I'm happy to do 'em," Brat said. "But I just wanted to talk about the victory ahead and I wanted to thank everybody that worked so hard on my campaign."
It's a win worth celebrating, to be sure. As of May 20, Cantor had thrown $5 million into his reelection campaign to Brat's modest $122,000, according to campaign finance reports. Though the public saw little polling during the primary race, Cantor's own internal poll taken at the end of May reportedly showed him up by more than 30 points.
Now, Americans are in for a tidal wave of factoids about this political upstart who just rocked the leadership of the U.S. Congress.
The chairman of the Department of Economics and Business at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., Brat earned his Ph.D. in economics from American University in Washington, D.C. He has a master's degree in Divinity from the Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Michigan's Hope College.
Brat is 49 years old; his campaign manager, Zachary Werrell, is 23.
In 2011, Brat mounted an ultimately unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. A four-person Republican Committee tasked with choosing the nominee opted instead for one of five other candidates.
And in an op-ed over the weekend, Brat indicated what some of his policy focuses might be should he succeed in besting his Democratic opponent Jack Trammell, who also happens to be a professor at Randolph-Mason College. He lambasted Cantor for having "voted to raise the debt ceiling 10 times, voted to fully fund Obamacare last October," and for assuming the role of "leading force in the House pushing amnesty for illegal immigrants."
But "the greatest moral failure" demonstrated during Cantor's tenure, Brat argued, "was his abuse of the public trust concerning the Stock Act, a bipartisan bill that was going through after the financial crisis."