Less than 24 hours after his stunning Republican primary defeat, Rep. Eric Cantor said Wednesday he will step down from his position as House Majority Leader on July 31.
It comes one day after his shocking loss to Tea Party-affiliated challenger Dave Brat in his district’s Republican primary.
“Effective July 31, I will be stepping down as Majority Leader,” Cantor told a herd of reporters gathered at a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon.
Cantor’s resignation will set in motion a scramble to replace him at the No. 2 spot in House Republican leadership. Cantor on Wednesday endorsed House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy with his “full support” if McCarthy decides to run for the majority leader spot.
Cantor will not seek a write-in campaign, meaning his 13-year run in Congress will come to an end in July.
House Republicans met to discuss their chaotic leadership situation at 4 p.m., where Cantor told his colleagues he would be stepping down. He will fill out his term in Congress, he said Wednesday.
Cantor has been second in command to House Speaker John Boehner since Republicans took control of the chamber in 2011. He lost his primary on Tuesday night to long shot and underfunded Tea Party-aligned candidate Dave Brat.
Cantor’s loss stunned much of the political world, and it immediately riled House leadership. There was no polling to suggest the majority leader was in trouble, nor did anyone think Brat posed a serious challenge. His internal polling put him up 34 points just a few days ago.
Cantor had outspent Brat by a more than 25-to-1 margin, according to the latest campaign disclosure reports.
During his press conference Wednesday, Cantor reflected on the time he has spent in Congress and the takeaways from his shocking loss.
“You know, growing up in the Jewish faith, you know, I grew up, went to Hebrew school, read a lot in the Old Testament, and you learn a lot about individual setbacks,” he said.
“But you also read and you learn that each setback is an opportunity, and that there’s always optimism for the future. And while I may have suffered a personal setback last night, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of this country.”
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