Cantor leaving Congress later this month
August 1st, 2014
09:20 AM ET
8 years ago

Cantor leaving Congress later this month

Washington (CNN) - Eric Cantor will be leaving Congress earlier than expected - the former House majority leader whose primary defeat less than two months ago rocked the Republican Party says he'll resign effective August 18.

Cantor had said after his primary loss that he would step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House on July 31. He announced that he was leaving Congress in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the main newspaper in his Virginia district on Thursday.

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Cantor also said he asked Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to hold a special election for his district on the same day as the regularly scheduled November 4 general election. By holding a special election that day for the district, the winner would take office immediately, rather than wait until the next Congress convenes in January.

"I want to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session," Cantor said in the exclusive interview with the newspaper.

A spokesman from McAuliffe's office told CNN that the governor's reviewing Cantor's request and will have a decision shortly.

Before his primary defeat, the seven-term congressman was considered to be the top candidate to succeed House Speaker John Boehner when Boehner eventually retires.

Shocking primary defeat

Cantor was upset in his June 10th primary election by Dave Brat, a little-known economics professor who enjoyed the backing of local tea party activists and other grassroots conservatives.

Cantor 'earthquake' rocks Capitol Hill

In the primary's closing days, aides close to Cantor said they expected the majority leader to win around 60% of the vote in his primary. He didn't come close, losing to Brat by around 10 percentage points.

Analysts say Cantor misread the pulse of conservatives in his Republican-dominated district, which is anchored in the Richmond area but stretches some 100 miles from the Tidewater to the outer reaches of the Washington exurbs.

"My sense from talking to people in the 7th Congressional District is that Cantor had lost touch with the base of the Republican Party there, and by the time he realized it and tried to make amends, it was too late," Virginia political analyst Quentin Kidd said.

"The real problem that the (tea party) base had with Cantor is that they got to where they didn't trust him," added Kidd, director of the Watson Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. "The issue that broke the bank for him was immigration. They saw him say one thing in Washington then say something else to them, and it caused deep distrust in the district."

Cantor's campaign shelled out a couple of million dollars in television and radio ads to send its message that Cantor was "a strong conservative." It outspent Brat's by more than 10-1. To put it another way, Cantor spent well over $100 for each vote that he won. Brat spent around $5 per vote.

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

Brat is considered the favorite as he faces off in November against Democrat Jack Trammell, like Brat a professor at Randolph-Macon College. There's no word yet on whether Brat and Trammell will run in a special election.

What's next for Cantor

In the interview, Cantor did not reveal what he would do after stepping down.

"My wife and I are sort of going to make those kind of decisions, and I do think they are best made as private citizens," he told the Times-Dispatch. "But I'm looking forward to being a very active member in that democratic system and advocate for the cause that I believe in."

There's speculation that Cantor may have a lucrative job offer in the works.

CNN's Dana Bash, Deirdre Walsh and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: 2014 • Eric Cantor • House Republicans
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. AZ Dem

    Later Days Fish!

    August 1, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    He should enjoy his retirement from Congress. He has a lifetime subscription to Obamacare.

    August 1, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Marie MD

    @emskafittle, I second that and add don't kept the door hit you on the way out!
    Of course he'll probably be back as a high paid lobbyist now that he has a fat government pension and medical insurance for life thanks to the taxpayers he scre wes during his useless time in congress.
    That being said, now that he is gone, all that's left in the teaklan side of congress is 100% crazy right wing christians.

    August 1, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Marie MD

    That should read don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    August 1, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. casual observation

    Scottish mama, this is a very important issue, they have been trying for years to gain control of our food supply, this is an issue we better agree on, don't listen to what the politicians say on this one, research Monsanto, you'll see, they have found a way to have a revolving door to our highest offices inside the government. Please people, pay attention to this, no partisan politics here, they own both sides of the aisle. Read the proposal, the last one 510 s senate bill, they want to mandate that all foods meet a certain standard, one unachievable with natural foods, only genetically modified foods can meet this standard, and that's only part of it. They will not allow you to grow your own food, because it required air, that you don't own, your not allowed to collect, and reuse rain water, its a natural resource you can't own, bad bad news, all if it. Don't believe a word you hear out of any politician, Republican, or Democrats.

    August 1, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. casual observation

    I am actually scared that I put that name in a post, they are extremely powerful, unbelievably so, literally the only thing I try to avoid using is that name, this is not a joke, I wish it were, please research, and voice your opinion, don't ley them take control, because they will.

    August 1, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    August 1, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. IrishMcC

    What a pathetic he loses the now he's going to 'take his toys and go home'...too funny... 🙂

    August 1, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. ChrisM

    Bye Bye Cantor, Dont let the door hit you where the good Lord split you!!

    August 1, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. PaulCat


    August 1, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    I reminded of one the right wing's favorite messaging techniques.
    "Most Americans want....." Cantor to leave D.C.
    "The will of the American is ..."not behind Cantor.

    August 1, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. jim

    After the world's briefest farewell speech outlining his many accomplishments.... he heads to wallstreet...

    August 1, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. PaulCat


    August 1, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Clay

    Cantor can star in the gay pride parade. I think he should come out of the closet.

    August 1, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. Name uche agonsi uche agonsi

    At least he would be noted for serving the nation at time the Repubd scored the least performance ratings. Being among the Repub leadership under GWB ...the under Obama when the GOPetd shut down the govt and prevented any thing good for the middle class Americans, he wasted the opportunity given him to serve his people.

    August 1, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. Gunderson

    Well Shucks,
    Being Conservative isn't a Political Position it is a Common Sense Position. I will make so simple that even the Know Nothings can understand it. If you are making $3000.00 a month you had better not be spending $4000.00 a month or pretty soon you in the Red. You Liberal's spent more than you took in, now 18 Trillion in debt. Is that clear? What kind of shape is your Pension in? I bet you are going to take care of that next year, right??

    August 1, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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