Eric Cantor Steps Down as House Majority Leader After Stunning Primary Loss
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) reflected on his shocking primary defeat and announced he was stepping down as House majority leader Wednesday afternoon.
“While I intend to serve out my term as a member of Congress, effective July 31 I will be stepping down as majority leader,” Cantor said at a press conference in the basement of the Capitol.
In his brief press conference, Cantor reflected on his loss and called the defeat a setback, saying, “Growing up in the Jewish faith, you learned a lot about individual setbacks. Each setback is an opportunity and there’s always opportunity in the future. While I may have suffered a personal setback last night, I could not be more optimistic about the future of the country.”
“While I will not be on the ballot in November,” Cantor said, “I will be champion to conservatives across the country.”
“I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of this country,” Eric Cantor says as he steps down as Majority Ldr pic.twitter.com/gX66nFrj5M
— jennifer bendery (@jbendery) June 11, 2014
The announcement comes nearly 24 hours after little-known economics professor David Brat handily defeated the seven-term Virginia congressman in Tuesday’s primary, upending the Republican party leadership and sending reverberations throughout establishment-friendly Washington, D.C. Cantor was expected to one day take the reigns from House Speaker John Boehner, but now, his leadership position — and Boehner’s — are up for grabs.
At a closed-door meeting with colleagues held moments before the press conference, Cantor announced he was stepping down from the leadership position, and quoted a holocaust survivor, saying “suffering is a part of life. Misery is a choice,” according to Politico’s Jake Sherman. House Speaker John Boehner was reportedly in tears. “This is a speech I never expected to give,” Boehner reportedly said, referencing his own 1998 ouster from leadership, according to The Hill’s Russell Berman. “Failure is not final,” the speaker said.
House Republicans will now hold leadership elections on June 19. Cantor said on Wednesday that he would support House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to succeed him as majority leader if he chooses to run.