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College Colleagues Will Face Off For Eric Cantor's Seat

Two professors at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., find themselves in an unexpected position after Tuesday's primary elections: facing each other in November for a seat in Congress.

David Brat, an economics professor with little political experience, defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for the 7th District.

The win is stunning: Cantor's loss makes him the first House majority leader to lose renomination since the office was created in 1899.

His general election opponent, Democrat Jack Trammell, a sociology professor with even less political experience, is a "sacrificial lamb" in the conservative-oriented Richmond-area congressional district.

Trammell was nominated by a party committee Monday after no candidate had entered the Democratic primary. He had expected to face the cash-flush Cantor, who had millions in his campaign chest.

"With Brat's loss, Trammell suddenly finds himself on a much more level playing field — facing, in Brat, a fellow Randolph-Macon professor and a candidate with a much leaner bankroll than Cantor," writes the Post's Mike DeBonis.

By comparison, Brat raised $207,000 through the end of May. Trammell has not registered with the Federal Election Commission — typically a sign of little or no fundraising.

The two professors work, not surprisingly, in very different academic fields.

Brat was reappointed in July by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell to the Virginia Board of Accountancy, which regulates certified public accountants.

Trammell won the 2009 Virginia Writer's Club award for nonfiction for his Reflections of a Southern Gentleman Farmer, a collection of vignettes about life with his wife and children on his small farm in Louisa County, according to articles on the Randolph-Macon website.

Trammell joined the Randolph-Macon faculty in 2000. He directs disability support services as well as the college honors program. He earned a master's in history and a Ph.D. in education at Virginia Commonwealth University.

His most recent book, The Richmond Slave Trade: The Economic Backbone of the Old Dominion, inspired the mayor of Richmond to propose a slavery heritage commemorative site.

According to his Amazon page, Trammell is currently writing a vampire novel.
That would fit with his course titled "Monsters and Modernism," in which students "dissect the cultural construction of monsters and demons," as Trammell explained in an interview with The Eerie Digest.

In a statement released by the Virginia Democratic Party, Trammell said he looks forward to a "spirited" campaign. " I am running because I believe Virginians are hungry for a radical change from the dysfunctional and reckless politics being practiced by those in Congress," he said.

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L. Carol Ritchie
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