Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) just couldn’t hold out.
Just months after a shocking primary loss to university professor Dave Brat, and only hours after he vacated his role as House Majority Leader, Cantor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he would resign from Congress entirely on August 18.
The former Majority Leader asked his state’s Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to hold a special election to fill his seat on November 4 so that his successor can take office immediately rather than having to wait until January to be sworn in with the rest of the 114th Congress.
Cantor had pledged in the past to serve out the rest of his term, but he told the Times-Dispatch that his constituents would be better served by his resignation. “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. Brat has confirmed that he intends to run in that special election.
A tongue-in-cheek passage in USA Today’s report on Cantor’s decision to leave office early suggests that, from a self-interested perspective, he is getting out of Dodge at precisely the right time.
The new GOP leadership team headed by McCarthy will be faced with big challenges and little time when lawmakers return after Labor Day. There will be only 12 days remaining on the House’s legislative schedule when lawmakers return, and it is shaping up to be a combative agenda.
The House delayed its departure for the August recess to resolve a dispute over an emergency spending bill to stem the flow of undocumented minors along the southwest U.S. border. Boehner and the GOP leadership team pulled the legislation on Thursday to work out differences with conservatives — a move that plunged the House into chaos and marred the leadership transition.
Cantor received a standing ovation from his congressional colleagues on Thursday in his final speech as Majority Leader. “This is a privilege of a lifetime,” Cantor said on the House floor. “I have truly lived the American dream.”
Something suggests that Cantor’s American Dream is just beginning.