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Who Are Dave Brat’s Constituents?


by AnneMarie J. Leake

Representative Dave Brat (R-VA) and his 7th District constituents have been in the national news a great deal over the past few weeks, thanks to a determined grassroots effort to make Brat live up to his self-proclaimed title of Mr. Accessible.  But who are these daunting leftwing radicals who have visibly shaken Brat’s usually calm, drawling, professorial veneer?  Let’s find out!

Do Dave Brat’s constituents live in Arizona? 

It seems unlikely that Brat’s constituents in VA07 would live in Arizona, yet we must wonder, given the fact that the only in-person Town Hall that he has definite plans to attend this month is in Arizona!  This is a real head-scratcher, given his oft-repeated excuse that he is simply too busy in these first 100 days of the Trump administration to hold a Town Hall in his district.  Paradox alert:  Brat promises to hold an in-district Town Hall once the first 100 days have passed, but his constituents are most concerned with talking to him about what is going on in the first 100 days, like the Muslim ban, ACA, Steve Bannon’s role on the National Security Council, cabinet positions, environmental issues, Planned Parenthood, and more.

Are Dave Brat’s constituents wealthy donors?

Some of them may be, but the vast majority are not.  And they most definitely are not these wealthy out-of-state donors:

  • The DeVos family of Michigan (yes, THAT DeVos family), contributing $15,500 to Brat’s campaign over the last two years.
  • Robert Henderson of SC, Chairman of Nutramax, who along with his wife donated $10,800 over the last campaign cycle.
  • Cary Katz, professional poker player and one of Nevada’s top federal campaign contributors, who along with his wife contributed $10,600 to Brat over the last two years.

This is just a sampling of the deep pockets nationwide helping fund Dave Brat.  For the two-year period ending 12/31/16, Federal Election Commission data shows that Brat received 62% of his donations from outside the State of Virginia, raising questions about where his allegiance lies, and who he is truly representing.  Brat has aspirations, and is wasting no time currying favor with the ultra-conservative donor base nationwide.

Are Dave Brat’s constituents primarily ultra-conservative Republicans?

No, they are not.  According to The Heritage Foundation’s Heritage Action Scorecard, which measures votes, co-sponsorships, and other legislative activity to show how conservative members of Congress are, Dave Brat is the 5th most conservative member of the House of Representatives, with a score of 94%.  As a point of reference, the average House Republican has a 65% rating.  As one of the Heritage Foundation’s “Top House Performers,” Brat falls in the top 1% of most conservative representatives.  But this does not jibe with the makeup of his district.  In the 2016 election, Brat’s Democratic opponent, Eileen Bedell, received 42.24% of the vote, to Brat’s 57.5%.  In fact, in elections since 2000, Bedell outperformed any previous Democratic candidates in this district, which is more moderate on average than Brat’s ideology would indicate.  There is clearly a big disconnect between Brat’s actual constituency and his personal legislative agenda.  Essentially, he is representing a very small portion – 1% – of his district with his extremely conservative views.  With Bedell announcing her candidacy for the 7th District Democratic nomination for the 2018 race, Brat is under even more pressure to start listening to ALL his constituents.

Are Dave Brat’s constituents paid leftist radicals?

Ever since the women are in my grill story went viral, Brat has been on the defensive, dismissing his frustrated constituents as paid activists.   It’s rather unseemly that his first reaction would be to disparage his constituents, rather than try to reach out to them in the spirit of, well, representation.  While it would be great to be paid for the hours of research, calling, emailing, writing, meeting, and peacefully demonstrating that are being invested into ensuring adequate representation, it simply isn’t happening.

Are Dave Brat’s constituents Johnny-come-latelies? 

In addition to lashing out at those he is failing to represent by falsely claiming that they are professional protesters, Brat also is quick to accuse them of not having been involved in the political process until now, as if that makes their concerns less valid.  Where were they, he asks, for the last two years when he held “hundreds and hundreds” (?) of Town Halls throughout his district?  I’ll tell you – we were working at our jobs; taking care of our families; engaging in the welfare of our schools and communities; and participating in campaigns both local and national, for candidates or causes, secure in the knowledge that the Leader of the Free World was a Harvard-educated Constitutional scholar working every day to ensure equal protection for all citizens regardless of race, gender, religion, orientation, or ability.  All that changed on November 9, 2016, and even more so on January 20, 2017; now we have stepped up to be responsible for our own day-to-day vigilance.  It’s time for Brat to stop patting himself on the back for his accessibility prior to November, and start listening to the increasingly concerned citizens of VA07.

Are Dave Brat’s constituents satisfied with a Facebook Live Town Hall?

In a word, no.  We gave it a shot, with hundreds, if not thousands, of active participants asking over 7,000 questions in just 30 minutes!  But lacking any true interaction between Brat and his constituents, it turned into a gentle game of ‘lob the softball’ between Brat and his assistant, with plenty of party line and non-answers served up.  Perhaps his biggest dodge of the night – and the moment he appeared the weakest – was when he escaped very pointed questions about Steve Bannon’s role on the National Security Council and his publicly-professed admiration of Satan, a statement that surely would have had conservative britches in a bunch had it been uttered by an Obama advisor. At 24:55 on the Facebook Live video, a visibly nervous Brat stumbles through the ol’ “I’m just an economist, I don’t know anything about that” ruse.   And just days after being pummeled with thousands of policy questions online, a torqued-up Brat gave a ranting interview on conservative talk radio in which he claimed that “the progressive left never brings up policy.”  Wait, what?

Are Dave Brat’s constituents still up in his grill?

You bet we are!  While Brat smugly played his constituents’ frustrations for laughs in front of a mostly male, mostly white audience at a private ticketed event outside of his district, his sexist dig has propelled the video of the event – and his constituents’ cause – to viral fame.  Thanks, Dave!  We’ll be in your grill until you stop avoiding and start answering.  


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Anne-Marie is a marketing and communications professional who serves as Communications Director for 4VABlue, strategists for Democratic campaigns in the Commonwealth of Virginia.