Cantor leaving Congress later this month
August 1st, 2014
09:20 AM ET
9 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. salty dog

    Awake yet rwnj, one of many, I'm sure.

    August 1, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. salty dog

    Speaker is not far behind you, time to take out some trash!

    August 1, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. emskadittle

    Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye

    August 1, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  4. salty dog

    If america ever wakes up, your gop is gone! Still not understanding why a working class person would vote for them, don't you want your social security, Medicaid, you've paid into them? The gop has told you, theh will either greatly scale back your benefits, or eliminate them altogether, and its not putting more money in your pocket, but it will help fund more tax breaks for the wealthiest, they really need it too.

    August 1, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Yesterday, Republicans demonstrated just how deeply fragmented that the conservative movement is in this country. The Republican Party has become paralyzed by anarchistic regressives whose only purpose is to break government and remake it into something more to their liking. It would extremely dangerous to our democracy if we ever let these doomsday prepping regressives gain control and power of our government.

    The regressives make no effort to hide the fact that they hate our government. Ask yourself this, if they hate the government so much, then why do they want to be in a position of power where they can control it? So they can reshape it.

    August 1, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. Gurgyl

    -please take Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham with you too. Evil thus can be driven away.

    August 1, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. old age voter

    Eric Cantor would still be in Congress if he would have voted to close the border stop the Democratic Party that is allowing tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to flood into the USA.

    August 1, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Sniffit

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

    Duh. With his connections etc., he'll be pulling in 7 figures easy wh-ring himself on K Street.

    August 1, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. Gary

    Another Republican quitter. Must be a rule in the republican party. If you lose an election you either whine for years or jusy quit and run. Just how much will the " Special " election cost ?

    August 1, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. Bill

    Now this reprobate will have to get a real job like the rest of us. Good riddance – – Congress needs to be purged of the useless clowns that refuse to work, yet are on the public dole. They were sent their to legislate, not complain, obstruct and whine. They all should be term limited, including the Senate.

    August 1, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. yolanda

    @Sniffit, you're absolutely right. He will undoubtedly be on K Street making stupid money. It's truly amazing that only Republicans become lobbyists, isn't it?

    August 1, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Must be nice to lose your job and receive a hefty pension for the remainder of your days.

    August 1, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    You know the Republican party is in trouble when a right wing nutjob like Cantor is voted out for not being conservative enough!

    August 1, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Malory Archer

    Since he's "resigning", we should assume that he WON'T continue to collect his taxpayer-funded paycheck for the next 4 months, right?

    August 1, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  15. Gunderson

    Um, Well,
    For all you Nanny Stater's, don't count your chickens before they hatch. The peasants may invade the chicken house and confiscate all your eggs! Big changes coming in November! Hope you have a good retirement plan! Do you even have a retirement plan. By now.

    August 1, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  16. salty dog

    Hey gundy, refuse to accept the fact that the nanny states are all gop controlled, which explains the polling results on the article earlier, wall street cheat sheet, look it up if you dare, let me guess their liberal right, too funny

    August 1, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Kent

    He's not doing this "for the next person" or anyone else but himself. He already has offers to be on Faux News or some other talking head outlet and probably has a speaking tour agent upping his price tag. He stands to make millions in the next few months and he's ready to fill his pockets!

    August 1, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. geggyg

    @ gary the special election shouldn't cost anything extra , as all house seats are up for election in November.
    Its a political move so the winner of his seat is sworn in during the first sitting after the election , instead of in January . Hope it backfires a dem is elected to replace him .

    August 1, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Fair is Fair

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House

    Must be nice to lose your job and receive a hefty pension for the remainder of your days.
    Ask all of the FORMER Democrats who've lost there seats since 2010.

    August 1, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. yerkiddinright

    I'm thinking that in addition to the lobbying cash, he and the GOP recognize that Brat is bat guano crazy and the longer he's out there campaigning, the more likely the public and press are to find out. Need the special election to cover limit his exposure to scrutiny.

    August 1, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Scottish Mama

    @Dutch from Va. Since Smithfield Farms out of china has taken over your states food supply, I tend not to listen to people like Cantor or yourself. Missouri vote NO on Amendment 1, on tues. and stop Smithfield, Monsanto, Cargill and the like from dictating our food sources.

    August 1, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. salty dog

    Fair, and it seems as though they have a strong case of buyer's remorse . Root canal ranks higher than Congress.

    August 1, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. sparky

    I heard boehner cried when cantor lost its like having a good frIend get kicked out of youR country club my heart bleeds for them the way their hearts bleed for the polar bears

    August 1, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. Democrat Junk

    Cantor is the "seeing eye dog" for Harry Reid's departure.

    August 1, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Lizzie

    Fair is Fair, no only republicans get pensions, DEMOCRATS donate it to their trust funds. (Clinton's)

    August 1, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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