David F. Brat, the Father of the House GOP Suicide Mission

Despite his apparent decline — at one point, his aides told reporters, he could barely stand up — Mr. DeFrancisco began pushing for the speakership himself. He grew more vocal and aggressive in making…

David F. Brat, the Father of the House GOP Suicide Mission

Despite his apparent decline — at one point, his aides told reporters, he could barely stand up — Mr. DeFrancisco began pushing for the speakership himself. He grew more vocal and aggressive in making his case. He urged fellow members of the conference to throw their support behind him. By late September he spoke of winning it at an event on Long Island.

But in early October, the 36-year-old Tanzanian grandchild of immigrants was inching closer to hitting the leader’s line. Initially, it was first-term incumbent Democratic Rep. John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, who was imperiled by an embarrassing scandal involving his ex-wife and the damaging election-eve release of an FBI report that detailed years of misconduct by Mr. Tierney. But that proved to be mere padding for a gathering of insurgents, many of whom were hoping to keep a string of rising Democrats in their ranks, and some of whom used hardball tactics to steer their support. Mr. DeFrancisco, when contacted by The New York Times, declined to criticize the methods of his newer rivals. “I can’t comment on that,” he said.

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