Eric Cantor, former House Majority leader, leaving Congress early

Rep. Eric Cantor, whose primary loss in Virginia in June shocked Washington, announced today that he will not serve the rest of his term in Congress. The former Republican house Majority Leader has decided to resign, beginning Aug. 18.

Cantor made the announcement in an op-ed for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“It has been the highest honor of my professional life to serve the people of Virginia’s 7th District in Congress,” Cantor wrote. “That is why it is with tremendous gratitude and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18.”

Cantor lost decisively against David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College and a Tea Party-backed candidate. He announced that he would not try to run as a write-in candidate and then stepped down from his position as the Majority Leader under House Speaker John Boehner. Rep. Kevin McCarthy was named Cantor’s replacement.

In his op-ed, Cantor announced strong support for Brat, saying that his constituents deserve a strong voice in Congress, not a lame-duck politics.

“It is vitally important that the constituents have a clear and strong voice during the consequential lame-duck session of Congress,” Cantor explained. “I believe and hope that voice will be Dave Brat. The issues that will be considered during the lame-duck session this year will be crucial to the future of our country. These debates will continue into the new Congress, and the people of this district deserve to have their new voice representing them and engaging on their behalf.”

Cantor said that he is asking Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, to hold a special election on Nov. 4, Election Day, so that Brat could take Cantor’s seat in Congress immediately, rather than waiting until January.

Cantor was first elected to represent the district in 2000. During Brat’s campaign, Cantor was widely criticized for being too entrenched in Washington politics and not acting in the itnerests of his constituency.

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