Trammell and Brat’s competition for VA-7’s House seat inspires R-MC students

Professor Dave Brat recently stunned the nation with his win over Eric Cantor. Next November, he will face fellow professor Jack Trammell. Photo  credit to the National Review.

Professor Dave Brat recently stunned the nation with his win over Eric Cantor. Next November, he will face fellow professor Jack Trammell. Photo credit to the National Review.

Randolph-Macon economics professor Dr. David Brat found himself in the national media spotlight on June 10 when he defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary contest in Virginia’s 7th District.

Brat’s victory over Cantor left little doubt that some of VA 7’s residents were looking for change, with Brat winning by an 11-percentage point margin (55-44).

To the surprise of the Randolph-Macon community, on June 9 another R-MC professor revealed his candidacy: Dr. John “Jack” Trammell, professor of sociology at Randolph-Macon, announced he would be running for the Democratic Party.

Both candidates have pointed to their teaching experience at Randolph-Macon as integral in their lives and part of their motivation to run for office.

In a statement provided to The Yellow Jacket, Trammell noted that he initially had doubts about running for office that he overcame by considering his time in the R-MC community.

“When I had to decide whether or not to run for office, it was a very tough decision,” Trammell said. “But I thought about my students and how I have asked them to leave their comfort zones and try out service learning in the community, and I realized that we all have to push ourselves to do more, and to continue growing.”

Trammell said that considering the time he has taken serving others and helping people succeed at Randolph-Macon was valuable to him in preparing himself to make the decision to run for office.

In an earlier interview, Dr. Brat told The Yellow Jacket that part of the reason he was running was to inform and involve students emerging politically at Randolph-Macon.

“Your generation is one of the reasons I’m going into this,” Brat said. “I’ve been teaching students forever, and you would hope students would become more involved because their generation is the one that’s going to end up picking up the tab.”

Both professors have made an impact on many Randolph-Macon students, and their contributions within the Randolph-Macon community have created a group of student supporters eager to see their professors succeed.

Rising junior Lydia Baumbach, an economics/business major, appreciated that Professor Brat encouraged students to ask questions about both current events and the topics they were discussing in class.

“I think he is…an advocate of inquisitive students,” Baumbach said. “He loves it when you raise your hand in class and ask a question, even if it’s challenging him.”

“He commands attention in the classroom. He doesn’t throw tricks, makes his expectations clear, and delivers on what he says he’s going to do, which is also a very important and rare quality to have as a politician.”

Brat also made an impression on 2014 graduate Julianne Harrington, a double major in Business/Economics and French.

“He was very enthusiastic and passionate about what he taught, and he was also energetic,” Harrington said.

Harrington also believed Brat could make a smooth transition from professor to congressional representative.

“If he finds something he’s very interested in and that he strongly believes in, he will work to convey that and he’ll show his passion for that,” Harrington said. “In Congress if there are issues that he wants to take care of he’s not going to stop until he gets results.”

Randolph-Macon students who have worked with Dr. Trammell also expressed excitement regarding his newly announced candidacy.

Rising junior Derek Dittmar, a communication studies major, has worked with Dr. Trammell both in classes and as part of the research project he is completing over the summer.

Dittmar is close to Trammell, but he only found out officially about his candidacy just before it was announced.

“I knew he was kicking it around last semester. I was informed on Monday [June 9],” Dittmar said. “Just before the Democratic Party announced [the nomination] he let me know.”

Dittmar stated he believes Trammell’s experience working for students with disabilities would be beneficial as a member of Congress.

“His ability… for advocating, he’s really got some extensive practice speaking for people, representing people, and being assertive when he needs to [be].”

Senior Business/Economics and Political Science major Sarah Maxwell has worked with Dr. Trammell through the honors program at Randolph-Macon. Maxwell noted that Trammell’s work for students on the Randolph-Macon campus has been an integral part of his time at the college.

“Dr. Trammell has been focused on the lives of students as a whole on campus in addition to their academics,” Maxwell said. “He’s worked… to bring to the attention of the administration buildings that need to be updated for disability access.”

The sudden contest between two Randolph-Macon professors has created plenty of excitement for political activities in the fall semester, including a potential debate between professors Trammell and Brat.

“I think it’s going to increase involvement and pride for Randolph-Macon with the students there this upcoming fall,” Harrington said.

“This is a historical race,” Dittmar said. “It’s historical for the school… and having students be a part of it will put students in a very unique position that will educate them about how our political system works.”

–Henry Ashton, ’15, Senior Politics/Opinions Editor

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