Updated 8:54 a.m. | Rep. Eric Cantor will resign from Congress effective Aug. 18, he said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch posted at midnight.
The Virginia Republican, newly deposed as House majority leader after losing his primary to Dave Brat, said he has asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to call a special election on Nov. 4, ensuring that the district will be represented in the lame duck.
“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 told his hometown newspaper . Cantor said that will also give his replacement additional seniority in the next Congress.
News of Cantor's quick exit came hours after he delivered a farewell speech as leader, and caps a stunning fall for the man who had been preparing to succeed John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, as speaker. He had previously said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term.
Leaving allows him to avoid awkward months serving as a back-bencher in a House he had once helped rule. It also gives him a chance to quickly move on to what will likely be a lucrative career in the private sector.
Cantor did not reveal what he plans to do after Congress. He's backing Brat's candidacy.
In a separate column in the Times-Dispatch , Cantor expanded on his decision:
“It has been the highest honor of my professional life to serve the people of Virginia's 7th District in Congress. That is why it is with tremendous gratitude and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18," he said.
"As I return to private life, Diana and I will make decisions about the future. I certainly look forward to doing what I did when I first became a Republican: advocating, as a private citizen, for the conservative solutions to the problems we face that will secure our nation’s greatness and provide a better life for all Americans."
Brat issued a statement thanking Cantor for his service:
"I want to thank Eric for his service to the Seventh District and to the entire Commonwealth. The time one has to sacrifice to be an elected official is enormous, and he has sacrificed a great deal to serve the people. I also want to thank him for his endorsement. I wish Eric and his family the best in their future endeavors. ..."He said he is focused on winning the Nov. 4 contest and noted if he does, he'll be "ready to serve" come Nov. 5.
Brat is set to face off against Democrat Jack Trammell in a race that is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
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