Dave Brat, 1982 Park Center HS grad, a Tea Party star - KMSP-TV

Dave Brat, 1982 Park Center HS grad, a Tea Party star

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Dave Brat became one of the biggest underdogs in political history Tuesday night, defeating U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in the primary election. The long-shot victory also had 1982 graduates of Park Center High School reaching for their yearbooks.

"This is the happiest moment, obviously, of my life," Brat said in his acceptance speech.

Political analysts are having a field day with the upset, and they're scrambling to find out how Brat unseated the No. 2 Republican in the House.

"The reason we won this campaign -- there's just one reason, and that's because dollars don't vote, you do," Brat said.

Whether his hard stance against immigration reform or his critical views on the debt debate led him to victory, it's clear the Park Center High School class of 1982 is proud that Brat overcame a powerful rival that outspent him 25 to 1.

"I don't know if it's hit anyone yet that it happened," former classmate Scott Carlson admitted. "I think if anyone would do it, he would."

A yearbook photo provided by the Brooklyn Park, Minn. school shows Brat was active in symphonic band, wind ensemble, marching band, National Honor Society, senior class cabinet, debate and varsity tennis.

"He was involved in a lot of different things," Carlson confirmed. 

Brat spent his high school years living in Brooklyn Park, Minn., with his family. Carlson was among his friends and classmates, and he says Brat's high school career was a preview of what has come to pass.

"He also participated in a state-level mock Legislature that, I think, foreshadowed what he's in now," Carlson said. "I certainly never would have anticipated this. No one did."

Even Brat's own father admitted to Fox 9 News "it's hard to believe," but Paul Brat did share a little insight into the strategy that started what some have called a "political earthquake."

"He said right at the outset, 'I am going to tell the truth, and if I lose telling the truth, so be it. I am not going to deceive people to get elected,''" Paul Brat told Fox 9 News by phone.

Today, Brat works as an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Brat faces fellow Randolph-Macon professor Jack Trammell, a Democrat, in the general election this fall.

“The American people want to pay attention to serious ideas again,” Brat said on Fox News. “Our founding was built by people who were political philosophers, and we need to get back to that, away from this kind of cheap political rhetoric of right and left.”

Brat raised less than $300,000, compared to Cantor’s $5.4 million campaign fund. The upset is already a major shakeup in Washington, as Cantor was expected to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House.

Of course, Brat still has the general election in November before he can take office, and his Virginia district is heavily Republican; however, no matter what happens, there will be several Minnesotans rooting for him.

"Whether you agree with him or not politically, I think you would like the man," Carlson said. 

Cantor plans to finish out his term in Congress, but he won't seek re-election as a write-in or independent candidate. He plans to step down as House Majority Leader at the end of July, and Republicans won't waste time in finding a replacement. Leadership elections are already set for next Thursday.

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