WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), 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 said in a statement his staff emailed Friday to reporters and that originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
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 as majority leader the most senior Jewish lawmaker in U.S. history and had ambitions of becoming speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
A poorly funded opponent who had the national backing of the insurgent Tea Party movement defeated him in the primary in June, in part because Cantor was seen as contemplating immigration reform.
Cantor’s final speech as majority leader on the House floor on Thursday 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 in his speech.
“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.”