Soon-to-be former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor . UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- Despite grabbing national headlines with his upset victory over soon-to-be-former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, tea party upstart Dave Brat remains mostly unknown to mainstream Americans.
"Dave Brat is a smart dude," Virginia Democratic consultant David Saunders told Time Magazine.
"It was a shoe-leather campaign. It was the greatest of the grassroots. He knocked on doors, he got out there, he told his story. They just did a hell of a job."
"Shoe-leather" may have been an understatement as Cantor outspent Brat by a 26 to 1 margin. All told, Cantor spent more on steak dinners than Brat did on his entire campaign.
Politically, Brat describes himself as a free-market capitalist seeking to ensure America's culture is defined by his interpretation of Christianity.
"I'm just running on the founding principles that Adam Smith and free markets – they made us the greatest nation on the Earth," Brat said in May.
"Free markets and the Judeo-Christian tradition all together made us the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. I think we're veering off course a little bit there and I want to get us back on that course that brought us to greatness."
On his campaign website, Brat makes no effort to conceal his worldview, warning his future colleagues and constituents, "Our Rights come from God and not from Government."
Brat is however a staunch supporter of using government influence to restrict the rights of undocumented individuals living in the United States, an issue he used to define the difference between himself and Cantor.
"So you look at people's intentions and political intentions and you ask yourself why are the Republicans doing this, why are they so intent on immigration reform," Brat posed in an interview with Fox News.
"[Immigration] is the most symbolic issue that captures the issues between myself and Eric Cantor in this race...It's clear they're doing this for the Chamber of Commerce and they want cheap labor and expanded workforce and whatever and that's gonna lower wages for everyone else. We clearly cannot import seven billion people on the planet into the USA, that's just a non-starter"
Brat's willingness to fly in the face of the GOP's mainstream won him the support among far-right media personalities, whom many credit with propelling the unknown college professor to victory.
"We all looked at each other, saying, 'He could totally win,'" Laura Ingraham told the The New York Times. Despite openly being a Republican, Ingraham campaigned against the House majority leader, stumping for his tea party opponent in Virginia's 7th District.
"I've had two moments in American politics in the last 15 years where I knew there was a big change afoot. One was when I left the Iowa caucuses in 2008. I walked out of there and said to a friend, 'Barack Obama is going to win.' And the other was when I left [Dave Brat's] rally last Tuesday."
Not all conservatives view Cantor's ousting as a good thing for the party, with New York Republican Peter King warning of the damage done to the GOP's credibility due to the influence of its far-right fringe.
"The results tonight will move the party further to the right, which will marginalize us further as a national party"