Cantor, Houses most senior Jew, to resign

Rep. Eric Cantor announced his resignation from Congress the day his term as majority leader came to an end.

“It is with tremendous gratitude and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18,” Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement emailed by his staff to reporters on Aug. 1.

A special election to serve out the rest of his term will take place on Nov. 4, the same day as the general election.

Cantor, the sole Jewish Republican in Congress, was the most senior Jewish lawmaker in U.S. history and had ambitions of becoming speaker of the House.

An opponent with national backing from the insurgent tea party movement defeated Cantor in the primary in June, in part because the lawmaker was seen as contemplating immigration reform.

Cantor’s final speech as majority leader on the House floor on July 31 earned him a standing ovation from both sides of the chamber.

“My grandparents fled religious persecution in Europe in order to find a better life,” Cantor said.

“My grandmother, a young Jewish widow, was soon raising my dad above a grocery store in Richmond, just trying to make ends meet,” he said. “And so it goes, two generations later, her grandson would represent part of what was James Madison’s seat in the House and then go on to serve as its majority leader. I have truly lived the American dream.” — jta