Just four years after killing the political career of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a stunning primary victory, Republican Virginia Rep. David Brat has lost his seat in Congress.
The GOP incumbent lost to former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger by just a few thousand votes in a razor-thin race. It was called by ABC News and CBS News almost five hours after the polls closed in Virginia.
Brat’s path from Tea Party darling to two-term burnout reflects the bumpy, reactive path of U.S. politics. His suburban Virginia district is rapidly moderating and turning against the brash, hardline brand of Republicanism that Brat represents.
The race was considered a toss-up, and Brat did little to broaden his base of support following the 2016 presidential race, even as the state GOP got crushed in the fall 2017 elections.
Brat dismissed the female constituents who came to his town halls to protest the GOP’s push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, calling them paid protesters and lamenting that “the women are in my grill no matter where I go.”
More recently, attending a drug addiction support meeting at a local jail, he compared his tough reelection bid to the struggles of a female inmate.
“You think you’re having a hard time. I’ve got $5 million of negative ads against me. How do you think I’m feeling?” he told the woman.
A recent film screening hosted by former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon in Brat’s district “to get the base jacked up” apparently failed to do the job, allowing Spanberger to flip the seat.