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Candidate Dave Brat thanks supporters

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Congressional candidate Dave Brat met with supporters at his campaign office in Spotsylvania County for a volunteer appreciation open house, shaking hands and speaking one-on-one in preparation for the “second half” of his campaign.

Supporters of the Republican candidate for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District seat crowded the storefront campaign office, located on Southpoint Plaza Way in Spotsylvania, to speak personally with the man who turned Washington on its head with his primary victory against Eric Cantor, then majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Suzanne Ircink, volunteer coordinator for Brat’s campaign, said volunteers were crucial to the overall operation—after all, she asked, how could someone be elected without the people?

“Dave is our leader. We found him, he found us. We found each other,” she said.

Ircink said that constituents in the 7th District share an “unusual” connection, one that Dave Brat can understand and use to represent the people.

“The people in the 7th are very strongly connected to each other. We know that we share the same values,” she said.

Once Brat arrived, the Rev. Michael Hirsch, chairman of the Fredericksburg Patriots, said a small grace before teenager Indalesia Mecham sang “America the Beautiful” to applause and whistles.

Hirsch later said he believed Brat would be able to carry out the tea party’s core beliefs of limited government, fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints on Capitol Hill.

“I’m here to support conservative values, and I believe Dave Brat represents that,” he said.

Brat said that, without the volunteers and their grassroots organizing, he wouldn’t even have a campaign.

“In the primary, we were massively outspent,” Brat said. “The volunteers did everything—they made phone calls, went door-to-door.”

The open house, he said, is a political “halftime” as the campaign prepares for the latter half of the race.

Brat felt the event was a good opportunity to meet with constituents and take a breather from the work of campaigning.

“We’re enjoying each other’s company,” he said.

Brat said the campaign had been “hugely successful in unifying every facet” of his district, and that he was very thankful for their hard work.

Also in attendance was Susan Stimpson, former chairwoman of the Stafford Board of Supervisors and former candidate for lieutenant governor, sporting a Dave Brat sticker and conversing with volunteers.

She said the event did a good job of setting a tone different from what people might typically see from lawmakers.

“I think what we see in politics today is that the people often get taken for granted,” she said.

Stimpson said that, as a candidate, Brat would not only be a strong defender of the average person, but a strong leader on principle.

Virginia’s 7th Congressional District includes all or part of the counties of Culpeper, Hanover, Louisa, New Kent, Orange and Spotsylvania, as well as Richmond City.

Brat, who was a largely unknown economics professor at Randolph–Macon College, beat Cantor in the June Republican primary by 10 percentage points.

Shortly after losing in the primary, Cantor resigned from his leadership position in the House. After the resignation took effect in late July, he left Congress entirely and endorsed Brat in a letter published in the Richmond Times–Dispatch.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe then approved a special election to take place concurrently with the Nov. 4 general election. The winner of the special election will represent the 7th District during the lame-duck session of Congress beginning Nov. 5.

Brat will face Democrat John “Jack” Trammell, also a Randolph–Macon professor, and Libertarian James Carr in the general election; he will face only Trammell in the special election.

Dawnthea Price: 540/374-5403