Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor, who stepped down from his House majority leader post Thursday, told his hometown newspaper that he’ll leave Congress altogether on August 18, before his term is up.
The announcement came two months after Cantor’s shocking primary loss to a nationally unknown tea party challenger and economics professor, Dave Brat. Cantor gave a farewell address Thursday ahead of Congress’s planned August recess.
“Walking into this building and walking onto this floor is something that excited me every day since I was first elected to Congress,” Cantor said on the House floor, adding, “I have truly lived the American dream.”
Cantor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he will resign from Congress early 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 asked Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to call a special election in the district to coincide with the general election expected for November 4, according to the newspaper, allowing the winner to take office immediately rather than with the next Congress in January.
“That way he will also have seniority, and that will help the interests of my constituents,” Cantor added in his interview with the Times-Dispatch. Virginia is losing much of its congressional seniority this year, due to the resignations of Republican Rep. Frank Wolf and Democratic Rep. Jim Moran.
Brat thanked Cantor for his service in a statement.
“Right now, I’m focused on winning on November 4th. If I’m fortunate enough to be chosen by the people of the Seventh District to be their next Congressman, I’ll come to the office on November 5th ready to serve,” he said.
Brat will face off against Democrat Jack Trammell in November. Cantor endorsed him again on Thursday.