Cantor challenger Brat stands up Grover Norquist

tea party flagBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Mr. Brat didn’t go to Washington on Wednesday.

The Dave Brat campaign set up a schedule of events for Wednesday in D.C. that included a meeting with Grover Norquist and made sure to spread the news to the press and social media and even the Washington Post.

Washington Post reporter Robert Costa wrote:

Brat, a primary challenger to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), made arrangements to attend two exclusive meetings Wednesday: anti-tax activist Grover Norquist’s weekly breakfast at the Washington offices of Americans for Tax Reform, and the Weyrich lunch, a Capitol Hill gathering of hard-right operatives named after the late conservative strategist Paul Weyrich.

Calls were made, details were confirmed, and on Monday, Brat said in an interview that he was excited … He was ready to make his pitch to the grassroots power brokers who have lifted conservative unknowns with their mailing lists and social-media reach.

No representatives were there on Brat’s behalf but Congressman Cantor’s rep was in the room.

At 10 a.m., Norquist walked into his conference room, surrounded by dozens of conservatives sipping coffee and spreading reduced-fat cream cheese on bagels. Interest groups passed out fliers; no one from Brat’s campaign was there. A few minutes later the group began to hear from guest speakers.

Spotted in the room was Neil Bradley, Cantor’s deputy chief of staff, touching base with conservatives who are at times Cantor’s critics, and updating them about Cantor’s legislative agenda.

Bradley’s presence was a reminder that, as much as Brat may dream of defeating Cantor, the man widely seen as the likely next speaker of the House is well-organized, well-funded and more plugged in than most Republicans. To beat him, you probably need to show up.

The no-show has some scratching their heads especially after Saturday’s upset win by Brat forces at the 7th Congressional District convention. Interestingly, Brat commented on his slim chance of winning the June 10 primary:

Brat acknowledges that defeating Cantor is the longest of long shots. Turning out 600 people for a district convention is one thing. Turning out 6,000 voters in a districtwide, open-to-all primary is quite another. Brat’s people do believe they can deeply wound Cantor, by holding his majority in the primary to the low double-digits. That would be fighting fire with fire.

Many will be watching to see if Brat is the recipient of a primary backlash from voters upset about Saturday’s convention shenanigans and the removal of someone known to many as a friend and tireless volunteer, Linwood Cobb. Will the vast legion of Cantor supporters wield their own brand of “fighting fire with fire” on June 10?

JHPolitics has more.

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