Why David Brat wants to retire Eric Cantor

Prof. David Brat, one of the candidates challenging Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th district, takes to the Daily Caller and offers his reasons for wanting to replace the incumbent. There is some interesting stuff here:

What we expect from government to a large degree determines what kind of people we are. A free people expect government to guarantee individual liberty and the rule of law. They expect government to respect their property. They expect government to avoid interfering with their beliefs or their private affairs. For most of our history Americans prided themselves on being a freedom-loving, industrious, self-reliant, and charitable people.

The first step towards ending the nightmare in which we now find ourselves is to decide there is nothing about the conditions of the 21st Century that prevents us being that kind of people again. I want to replace Eric Cantor because I believe I know better than he does what kind of people Virginians are and want to be, and my objective will be restoring a federal government that is friendly to these aspirations.

It manages to hit the limited government themes pretty well, and is exactly the sort of thing Brat can use as rhetorical background. What is harder to follow, coming, as this does, from an economist, is the fascination with amnesty:

As an economist, I can see the conditions for new manufacturing in this country. Low energy costs are one such condition that could bring good, new manufacturing jobs that will help restore our fraying social order by welcoming back to the world of productive work many of those now languishing on the margins.

While we all welcome the revival of American manufacturing, much of corporate America seems to believe this can only be achieved with cheap immigrant labor, and hence their pressure to facilitate new waves of massive immigration and promote amnesty for those who have entered this country illegally. This, while millions of our friends and neighbors are looking for work all across the labor market at all levels of skill and education.

This strikes me as poor policy for a free market economist.

Brat and his staff know very well that amnesty is not their ticket to victory, which is why they also hit a few other points in the DC piece.

But taking down Cantor is probably a much simpler thing. Paul Goldman and I wrote in the Washington Post:

Even a lackluster, underfunded challenger starts with a seeming 40 percent floor as the “ABC” – Anyone-But-Cantor — candidate. Henrico, and to a lesser extent neighboring Chesterfield County, would likely decide a competitive election in the district. Both are served by the same media market. Primary turnout in Virginia skews to only the most highly informed and motivated voter.

This means regular news consumers will prove the key demographic. They should skew toward “throw the bums out,” Tea Party backers. A smart anti-Cantor campaign, backed up with money and resources by anti-establishment Republicans from around the country, would be potent. Once a populist fire gets lit, all the endorsements and high-dollar fund-raising can’t put the blaze out. As Joe Louis warned Billy Cohn: You can run but you can’t hide.

A base is there. It will take money, skill and a simple message to build on it. Brat isn’t there yet. He may never get there. But he has a bit of time to come up with the pithy line that makes the difference.

“What has Eric Cantor done for you lately?”

Well, he did go to Davos…does that count?

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