Share

POLITICS: PennAve

Meet Dave Brat's 23-year-old campaign manager

By |
Politics,Virginia,Betsy Woodruff,2014 Elections,Campaigns,PennAve,Eric Cantor,Dave Brat

You've probably heard of Dave Brat by now. He's the economics professor who just made history by being the first person to beat a House majority leader in a primary.

But you might not know about Zachary Werrell, his campaign manager who turned 23 last month, interviewed for the gig at a Panera restaurant and has been sleeping on the couch of his mentor. Werrell spoke with the Washington Examiner over the phone from the boisterous Brat victory party. Here are highlights from that conversation:

On what stands out about Brat from the campaign trail:

“He’s just a very happy, nice, affable person. When you see him, you don’t get any bad vibes. He’s just a very positive, upbeat person.”

On how Cantor’s negative ads affected Brat’s win:

“It was a huge part. We just harnessed it. You just stay positive and you tell the truth. You stay factual, you don't get mean, you don't get nasty. As Dave said at the 7th District convention, 'I'm not running against Eric Cantor as a person, I'm running against Eric Cantor on policy, it's nothing personal.' And that's the truth.”

On Brat’s strategy for the general election:

“At this point, what works, works. You just tell the truth, you be positive, you talk about the issues.”

On their primary strategy:

“The focus was 100-percent grassroots. Grassroots, grassroots, grassroots, grassroots, grassroots.”

What else?

“Face-to-face positive interaction. That’s what you do. We had dozens of people knocking every day — not every day, sometimes only one person. But we had a few spectacular volunteers that, I don’t even know how they managed to hold down a job, let alone volunteer all those hours for us.”

On their ads:

“We had some Internet ads, and money started coming through so we threw that [TV] ad up about a week ago. As the money came, I did my best to spend it as fast as I could. And then over the last few days it was coming in faster than I could even spend.”

On their fundraising surge toward the end of the race:

“Eric Cantor's flip-flopping on amnesty made it very easy to label him as a flip-flopper. And then that got national attention when Eric Cantor said, ‘Let's make a deal with Obama' the Friday before the primary.”

And that comment had a big impact on their money?

“It helped with the media. Every time [Brat’s] name was mentioned in the media, the money rolled in.”

And amnesty was a big part of Brat’s earned media?

“That was a huge driver of a lot of it. Like with Laura Ingraham’s stuff — amnesty. With Mark Levin, his big pet peeve — amnesty. Etc, etc.”

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Betsy Woodruff

Political Writer
The Washington Examiner