- - Thursday, January 7, 2016

For Tea Party rebels, June 10, 2014, was the equivalent of destroying the Death Star. An unknown college professor named Dave Brat challenged the sitting Majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Since the position was created, no incumbent majority leader had ever been defeated in a primary, and Eric Cantor was considered invulnerable. Mr. Cantor’s war chest was counted in the millions, while challenger Brat’s campaign account was measured in thousands.

But Mr. Cantor had grown too secure in his job, too complacent and too out of touch with his district. And on that June day almost two years ago, the political world was shocked with Virginia’s 7th Congressional District voters removed Mr. Cantor.

Since Mr. Brat took office, he has done something that is simply shocking in modern political circles. He has kept his word. He has voted exactly as he promised he would.

Mr. Brat’s incredible surprise victory turned a spotlight on the long-simmering civil war in the Republican Party between conservatives and the liberal Republican establishment. Conservatives learned long ago that loyalty is a one-way street with establishment Republicans. The establishment squeals that a conservative who challenges an establishment Republican in a primary is not being loyal to the party. If the establishment candidate prevails, like-minded Republicans demand conservatives show their loyalty and support the nominee. If a conservative beats the establishment candidate, loyalty is entirely optional.

Conservatives have wondered how the establishment would try to strike back against Mr. Brat. Now they no longer have to wonder. Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade, fresh off of re-election to his cushy job, has announced he will challenge Mr. Brat in the primary.

The civil war in the Republican Party of Virginia is on again and a lot of conservatives are very unhappy. Ron Hedlund is a small business owner and Republican activist. He is furious at Mike Wade. Mr. Hedlund says, “If Sheriff Mike Wade is being truthful now, in saying that his primary challenge against Dave Brat has been a long-term strategy, then he was being deceptive to the Henrico County electorate when he just recently ran for re-election as sheriff. It is well known that Sheriff Wade was prepared to retire after his last term, until Eric Cantor lost in the embarrassing primary of 2014.”

The accusation that Mr. Wade is simply the Cantor revenge candidate is tearing through the 7th Congressional District.

Zach Werrell was Dave Brat’s campaign manager in the 2014 primary. He has written a fantastic book about the campaign called “How to bag a RINO: The whiz kids who brought down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Mr. Werrell isn’t shocked by the developments. A RINO is, of course, a Republican In Name Only.

Mr. Werrell says, “I cannot say I am shocked. In fact, this has been the worst kept secret in Virginia for months now. There is nothing more dangerous to the GOP (GOP Establishment) and RINOs everywhere than a congressman who runs on, then sticks to his conservative principles. Mike Wade, who has long been the ‘enforcer’ for the Cantor Machine and literally just won reelection as Sheriff two months ago, blatantly lied to the voters when he ran for reelection on a platform of seeing through his many initiatives. The only thing Wade could have against Dave is that he is a man of his word, and is too honest to remain in Congress. That, and his name isn’t ‘Eric Cantor‘.”

Many people in the 7th District believe Mr. Wade was put up to running by Eric Cantor. Mr. Wade has denied this. There are only two men who know. Neither of them is likely to admit it, and unless Mr. Obama’s NSA was listening in the public will probably never know the truth.

Mr. Brat is taking his challenger seriously — much more seriously than Eric Cantor took his.

On Jan. 9th, the Republicans of the 7th Congressional District will meet to determine whether the nomination process for this year’s election will be a convention or a primary. Mr. Brat has requested a convention, which would be much friendlier to conservatives and prevent crossover voting from Democrats.

The outcome of that vote will show to what extent the Cantor machine still controls the 7th District.

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