Eric Cantor Is Stepping Down From Leadership

The No. 2 House Republican will step down from his leadership position, after losing a primary for his seat on Tuesday night.

The U.S. Capitol is shown on the morning of June 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Yesterday House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his Virginia primary to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms and Billy House
See more stories about...
Sarah Mimms Billy House
June 11, 2014, 9:24 a.m.

House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor in­formed mem­bers of his con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon that he will step down from his po­s­i­tion ef­fect­ive Ju­ly 31, set­ting up a spe­cial lead­er­ship elec­tion to re­place him. That elec­tion will be held next Thursday, June 19, ac­cord­ing to a Re­pub­lic­an source.

Can­tor lost a primary for his seat on Tues­day night. House Re­pub­lic­ans are hold­ing a spe­cial meet­ing this af­ter­noon, which star­ted at 4 p.m. in the base­ment of the Cap­it­ol. There is spec­u­la­tion fly­ing around the Hill that they will also dis­cuss a pos­sible suc­cessor at the meet­ing.

A press con­fer­ence is sched­uled for 4:30 p.m.

Can­tor’s exit would set off a race to re­place Can­tor as the num­ber two Re­pub­lic­an in the House. Already, Texas Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Pete Ses­sions have in­dic­ated that they are tak­ing a look at the race. House Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy is also ex­pec­ted to seek to move up the rung of House lead­er­ship.

Mc­Carthy wouldn’t com­ment on wheth­er he’ll seek Can­tor’s job, but said: “There will be an an­nounce­ment [at the 4 p.m. meet­ing].”

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, says that Mc­Carthy told him that he will def­in­itely be run­ning for ma­jor­ity lead­er.

The House’s No. 4 Re­pub­lic­an Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers said in a state­ment that she’s stick­ing with her post as con­fer­ence chair, “after much en­cour­age­ment from my col­leagues, con­ver­sa­tions with my fam­ily, and many pray­ers.”

Wed­nes­day’s dis­cus­sions come as ten­sions are grow­ing on the Hill between con­ser­vat­ives and mem­bers of lead­er­ship. Many con­ser­vat­ives took last night’s race in Vir­gin­ia’s sev­enth con­gres­sion­al dis­trict as a ref­er­en­dum, not just on Can­tor, but on the House’s cur­rent lead­er­ship as a whole.

Con­cerns over Can­tor’s con­tin­ued pres­ence in lead­er­ship as a lame duck head­ing in­to the Novem­ber midterm elec­tions could also be a factor in­to his pos­sible exit.

Can­tor’s tech­nic­al du­ties as lead­er in­clude schedul­ing what bills go to the floor, along with the key role of de­vis­ing and mesh­ing the con­fer­ence’s over­all polit­ic­al and le­gis­lat­ive strategy. And there is no re­quire­ment for him to step down un­der in­tern­al House Re­pub­lic­an rules, ac­cord­ing to an aide fa­mil­i­ar with the rules.

But House GOP lead­er­ship aides, speak­ing on the con­di­tion they not be iden­ti­fied, de­scribed the choice that’s to be made by Can­tor on wheth­er he would stick around as lead­er as this:

On one hand, the ar­gu­ment for Can­tor step­ping down ASAP is that his de­feat by tea-party backed Dave Brat rep­res­ents a sort of “no con­fid­ence” vote from Can­tor’s own con­stitu­ents in Vir­gin­ia. And giv­en that, they also ques­tion wheth­er the con­fer­ence should have a de­feated “lame duck” so prom­in­ently at the helm next to Speak­er John Boehner through the sum­mer and stretch run of this year’s mid-term elec­tions, a re­mind­er to voters.

But an ar­gu­ment in fa­vor of keep­ing him around as long as pos­sible is that Boehner and the con­fer­ence don’t need — in fact should avoid — a po­ten­tially tu­mul­tu­ous and de­struct­ive in­tern­al lead­er­ship battle at this point be­fore the elec­tion, and that Boehner should ask Can­tor to stay on as lead­er. There are some who see such a con­test right now as po­ten­tially even an early proxy vote on Boehner him­self, and his en­tire lead­er­ship team.

Cor­rec­tion: An earli­er ver­sion of this story mis­stated Can­tor’s dis­trict. It is Vir­gin­ia’s sev­enth.

Tim Alberta contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
‘PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE’
Priebus Asks Party to Unite Behind Trump
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
FEELING THE MIDWESTERN BERN
Sanders Upsets Clinton in Indiana
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Despite trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, Bernie Sanders wasn't going the way of Ted Cruz tonight. The Vermont senator upset Clinton in Indiana, with MSNBC calling the race at 9pm. Sanders appears poised to win by a five- or six-point spread.

Source:
TRUMP IS PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE
Ted Cruz Bows Out, Effectively Ceding the Contest to Trump
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

And just like that, it's over. Ted Cruz will suspend his presidential campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in Indiana tonight. "While Cruz had always hedged when asked whether he would quit if he lost Indiana; his campaign had laid a huge bet on the state." John Kasich's campaign has pledged to carry on. “From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” said Cruz. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."

Source:
TAKES AT LEAST 45 DELEGATES
Trump Wins Indiana, All but Seals the Nomination
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Republican establishment's last remaining hope—a contested convention this summer—may have just ended in Indiana, as Donald Trump won a decisive victory over Ted Cruz. Nothing Cruz seemed to have in his corner seemed to help—not a presumptive VP pick in Carly Fiorina, not a midwestern state where he's done well in the past, and not the state's legions of conservatives. Though Trump "won't secure the 1,237 delegates he needs to formally claim the nomination until June, his Indiana triumph makes it almost impossible to stop him. Following his decisive wins in New York and other East Coast states, the Indiana victory could put Trump within 200 delegates of the magic number he needs to clinch the nomination." Cruz, meanwhile, "now faces the agonizing choice of whether to remain in the race, with his attempt to force the party into a contested convention in tatters, or to bow out and cede the party nomination to his political nemesis." The Associated Press, which called the race at 7pm, predicts Trump will win at least 45 delegates.

Source:
LOTS OF STRINGERS
Inside the AP’s Election Operation
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
×