Brat, with his wife, Laura, after defeating Republican Congressman Eric Cantor in the Republican primary on Tuesday, in Henrico, Va. (P. Kevin Morley / AP)
Richmond, Va. — The giant-slayer isn’t quite ready for his close-up.
For the three days since Dave Brat took down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the GOP primary Tuesday, he’s been holed up in his suburban home, avoiding the reporters and TV trucks waiting out front. While the world wants to know more about the economics professor turned sudden tea party star, Brat’s in hiding, apparently unprepared for the tempest he unleashed.
“I need a few days to decompress after that election,” Brat told a CNN crew when he briefly emerged Thursday to get a haircut.
In a text message to The Associated Press, Brat said he was not doing any public appearances and had “shut down for a week with the family.” On election night, the 49-year-old said he was looking forward to a steak dinner with his wife to make up for having celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary while on the campaign trail.
Brat is set to square off against Democrat Jack Trammell, who like Brat teaches at the tiny Randolph-Macon College just north of Richmond, in the general election. Virginia’s 7th District leans heavily Republican and went for Republican Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama by 57 percent to 42 percent in 2012.
From home, Brat has done several media interviews by phone but has mostly tried to steer clear of policy issues.
“Hey Chuck, I thought we were just going to chat today about the celebratory aspect,” Brat said Tuesday in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd when asked about his position on sending arms to Syria.
Brat said he’s receiving media inquiries from all over the world, including from China and Saudi Arabia.
The campaign brought on a new spokeswoman, Rachel Semmel, after Tuesday’s win to help manage the situation.
“Right now, I’m only speaking off the record,” said Semmel, a former spokeswoman for Arizona Congressman David Schweikert.
A statement sent to the media on Friday — attributed only to an unnamed campaign spokeswoman — said Brat would be spending Father’s Day weekend with his family at home and would release a schedule of events on Monday.
Brat’s retreat from the national spotlight underscores how few people — including, apparently, the candidate — saw Tuesday’s victory coming. The father of two was viewed by virtually everyone as a long shot to dethrone Cantor, who had raised nearly $5 million for the campaign compared to $200,000 raised by Brat.
He had only two paid campaign staffers. Campaign manager, Zachary Werrell, is a 23-year-old who had only managed a Virginia state house campaign before helping Brat win.
“It really is a modern-day miracle, there really is no other way to describe it,” Brat said shortly after trouncing Cantor by more than 11 percentage points.
Virginia Democratic Party spokesman Ashley Bauman said Brat’s comments, both past and future, will come under heavy scrutiny.
“For the next few months we’re going to examine his extreme rhetoric and ideology and let voters know where he stands,” Bauman said. She said the Democratic Party will emphasize Brat as a tea partyer, a label Brat has shied away from.
Brat campaigned heavily against “amnesty” for immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally and positioned himself as a free-market champion.