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Dave Brat, stands with his wife, Laura, as he speaks to supporters after defeating Republican Congressman Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for the 7th Congressional District in Virginia.

P. Kevin Morley, Associated Press

Underdog who toppled Cantor has Minnesota ties

  • Article by: MARY LYNN SMITH
  • Star Tribune
  • June 12, 2014 - 3:12 AM

While Dave Brat made national headlines in a shocking political upset, his father back in Minnesota spent Wednesday fielding phone calls from the media about the his son’s win in the Virginia Republican primary over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

It not likely something his father would have envisioned decades earlier when the family moved to Minnesota in 1978.

Brat, a 1982 graduate of Park Center Senior High School in Brooklyn Park, told his father earlier this year about running against Cantor. “We knew it was an uphill battle,” said his father, Paul Brat, a retired physician who lives New Brighton. “Dave didn’t really have any name recognition in politics, no money and no staff.”

But now the kid who played tennis and “pretty good trumpet” at Park Center High is the talk of Washington, D.C.

“Dave was very optimistic and he was sure he could win,” Paul Brat said. “But the polls kept showing he was way behind and that afternoon the latest poll I read showed he was behind by 13 points.”

So Brat’s father didn’t watch election returns until one of his other sons called to say: “Dave’s ahead.”

“That really surprised me,” Paul Brat said. “It’s stunning.”

Mary Lynn Smith

© 2014 Star Tribune