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Cantor to leave House early

Aides clear a path through tourists as U.S. Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) departs the House floor after making a farewell speech after stepping down as House Majority Leader, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington July 31, 2014.

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By The Associated Press
Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, 6:12 p.m.

RICHMOND, Va. — Under the shadow of a stunning primary election loss, former Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Friday that he will resign his seat in the House months earlier than expected.

The congressman will step down Aug. 18 and has asked Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to call a special election to enable his successor to take office immediately, Cantor said in a statement, a day after stepping down from his leadership post.

“It has been the highest honor of my professional life to serve the people of Virginia's 7th District in Congress,” Cantor said. “That is why it is with tremendous gratitude and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from Congress.”

The Republican had said he would serve out his term and try to help GOP candidates win this fall.

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said that the governor's office was reviewing the request for a special election.

Cantor's office will stay open and his staffers will be able to continue to handle constituent services under supervision of the House clerk.

Cantor, a major fundraiser with close ties to big business and Wall Street, did not say what he plans to do. He said only that he wants to advocate as a private citizen “for the conservative solutions to the problems we face that will secure our nation's greatness and provide a better life for all Americans.”

Cantor said a special election on Nov. 4, the same day as the scheduled regular election, would give the winner seniority rather than waiting until January to take office with the new Congress. He noted that special election on the same day as the scheduled general election would not cost taxpayers extra.

Cantor lost to Dave Brat, an underfunded, Tea Party-backed opponent, in the June Republican primary.

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