Dave Brat has claimed that his historic victory in 2014 over Eric Cantor was the result of a grassroots campaign — or maybe God lent a hand. In reality Brat was given massive support by Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and other members of the alt-right media, not least by Steve Bannon of Breitbart, who’s from Richmond, VA, Brat’s home turf. Zach Werrell, Brat’s campaign manager in the 2014 primary, openly acknowledged it, and Jeremy Peters of the NYT has reported on the connections, including that a childhood friend of Bannon’s was one of Brat’s campaign advisors.
Peters pointed to the dozens of articles and interviews Breitbart put out on Brat, and Breitbart itself claimed to have followed Brat closely. The earliest Breitbart interview with Brat was in February 2014, one month after Brat had declared and long before anyone could reasonably have thought that he had a chance of making a showing. Why would Breitbart, or anyone, even have noticed? Perhaps the campaign advisor made a call to his old friend, Bannon.
Breitbart saturated the media in the last 10 days before the June 10 primary, which is precisely when Brat’s fortunes are thought to have turned. Breitbart’s early aid and last-minute push must have been crucial to Brat’s victory. Since then, Breitbart has followed Brat’s career and Brat has himself published on Breitbart and has extolled Trump’s selection of Bannon for his campaign staff.
Another alt-right link is Julia Hahn, an executive producer for Laura Ingraham in 2014. After the election, she joined Brat in DC as his press secretary, leaving after 7 months to write for Breitbart, where her articles include vigorous defenses of Brat and Ingraham.
Dave Bossie, until very recently the president of Citizens United, is another powerful right-wing connection to Brat. Citizens United contributed $2500 to Brat's 2014 campaign. Bossie made films with Bannon and was deeply involved with Trump even before he became Trump’s deputy campaign manager. In the radio interview embedded in this article, Bossie was said by Bannon to have been one of the early people to take notice of Brat, whom Bannon himself refers to as a “true hero.”
Michael del Rosso, is yet another Brat-Trump link. Del Rosso lives in Virginia, is a Trump surrogate on national security, and ran unsuccessfully in this year's Republican primary for VA-5 against Tom Garrett. Del Rosso's campaign manager was Gray Delany, who’d been Brat’s deputy campaign manager in the 2014 primary. Funnily enough, Garrett's manager was Zach Werrell, Brat's manager during the primary. Del Rosso and Garrett were both vying for the same far-right vote, and so both were trying to tie themselves to Brat, the great Cantor-slayer. Del Rosso accused Garrett of having supported Cantor. Garrett responded that Del Rosso had exaggerated his relationship with Brat. Del Rosso, to disprove this, posted on his website e-mail exchanges in which he offered foreign policy advice to Brat and urged his friends to attend Brat fundraisers. Linked there, too, you’ll find links to a request by Brat’s campaign to Del Rosso asking him to help Brat fill out a Richmond Times-Dispatch questionnaire on foreign policy, and Del Rosso’s extensive reply.
Finally, Brat, though he claimed that he was not making an endorsement in the 2016 presidential race until after the primaries — as a “matter of principle” - all but endorsed Trump in 2015, calling him a “brother-in-arms” — 11 days after Trump donated to him. In May 2016, Brat declared on Ingraham’s show that he was “all in” for Trump (the interview is fun to listen to because Ingraham drops big obvious hints to Brat about how much he owes her — and he is very slow on the uptake. Fun, but it also confirms the analysis that the alt-right media played a huge role in Brat’s election).
Dave Brat is no man of the people and his victory over Eric Cantor was not a miracle. He has got where he is with massive support from the powerful alt-right media, whose obstructionist xenophobic agenda he has been pushing in Congress as one of the most stalwart members of the House Freedom Caucus. Brat’s district, VA-7, has been re-drawn to be more favorable to Democrats, who are working hard to get the excellent Eileen Bedell elected. Ousting Brat would be a benefit not only to the people of VA-7, but to the whole country. Please go to Eileen’s website to find out how to support her.