Share story

WASHINGTON — Jack Trammell is an associate professor of sociology, a romance novelist, a descendant of Appalachian farmers and the father of seven children in what he calls a blended family.

As of this week, he is also the Democratic candidate in a House race that has suddenly captured the nation’s attention, with the primary defeat of the Republican incumbent, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. In November, it will be a faceoff between Trammell and his colleague at Randolph-Macon College, David Brat, who triumphed over Cantor on Tuesday.

Trammell’s electoral path has been much less eventful than Brat’s. Trammell was nominated at a quiet party convention Monday. His Facebook campaign page was created the same day, and his Twitter account had only two posts by Wednesday night.

Trammell, 50, said Tuesday that Cantor’s loss proved: “Virginians are hungry for a radical change from the dysfunctional and reckless politics being practiced by those in Congress.”

This week, save 90% on digital access.

“In the coming months, I look forward to a spirited campaign where we can talk about the issues that matter to our community, and how we can get Congress refocused on the priorities that truly matter to us.”

It will be an uphill climb to victory: Mitt Romney carried the 7th District with almost 57 percent of the vote in 2012.

In a Twitter post Wednesday, Trammell thanked supporters — 14,000 of whom have “liked” his Facebook page — and urged voters to “stay tuned for more info.”

Trammell and his wife, Audrie, have seven children, his campaign website said, “six of whom will be in college this fall.” Three are his children, and four are hers.

On a website devoted to the more than 20 books he has written — including “Sarah’s Last Secret,” a romance novel — Trammell said he runs a small family farm and is “descended from generations of Appalachian farmers.”

He said in his campaign biography that his first experience with politics was at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., a traditionally conservative Christian school from which he graduated in 1986. The biography emphasizes that “he experienced a de facto ban in the school newspaper due to his more moderate views, and he spoke out against various forms of discrimination still evidenced in higher education.”

He campaigned for Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts in the 1988 presidential race and President Clinton. He earned a master’s degree and a doctorate from Virginia Commonwealth University.

At Randolph-Macon, in Ashland, Va., Trammell is an associate professor of sociology, specializing in disability studies, and director of Disability Support Services. He joined the faculty in 2000.

Most of Trammell’s books are academic works — “Sarah’s Last Secret” notwithstanding — and he has written a military history column for The Washington Times. He’s now writing a vampire novel.

The race is also bringing considerable attention to Randolph-Macon, a liberal-arts college affiliated with the Methodist Church. It was named after two congressmen: John Randolph of Roanoke and Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina.

One of its most famous graduates is Macon Brock, founder of the national discount retail chain Dollar Tree.

Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.