Eric Cantor Bows Out Early

The defeated House majority leader says he will resign early rather than serve out his term after leaving his leadership post on Thursday.

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Eric Cantor is done.

The now-former House majority leader announced early Friday that he would resign his seat in Congress on Aug. 18, cutting short his term by four-and-a-half months to let his successor get a head start (and maybe to start making the big bucks).

The news comes just a day after Cantor left his leadership position in the House, and because Congress is about to start a five-week recess, it means he won't return to the Capitol as a lowly rank-and-file member, stripped of his lavish office space, his large coterie of staff and his security detail.

Cantor made the announcement in an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, his hometown newspaper.

He called on Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a special election for his seat that would be held on the same day as the general election on Nov. 4. Holding it concurrently would mean taxpayers wouldn't have to foot the bill for a new election, and Cantor's likely successor, David Brat, would be able to take office immediately, Cantor wrote.

It is vitally important that the constituents have a clear and strong voice during the consequential lame-duck session of Congress. I believe and hope that voice will be Dave Brat. The issues that will be considered during the lame-duck session this year will be crucial to the future of our country. These debates will continue into the new Congress, and the people of this district deserve to have their new voice representing them and engaging on their behalf."

The early transition also would allow Brat to gain seniority over all the other freshmen House members who will take office in January – a jump that would give him a leg up on committee posts and other perks if he stays in Congress for several terms.

The move is an about-face for Cantor, who said he would serve out his term after Brat defeated him in an upset primary victory in June.

But it is not a total shock.

Other party leaders, most recently former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), have resigned quickly after giving up their leadership posts.

The fast exit comes with another potential perk: Because House members are banned for lobbying for one year after leaving office, the clock will start earlier for Cantor than it would have if he left in January.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.