WASHINGTON Representative Eric Cantor said on Friday he will resign his seat effective Aug. 18, months earlier than expected following a stunning defeat in a Republican primary election.
Cantor, who on Thursday stepped down from his leadership position in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, said he had asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to call a special election to coincide with November's congressional elections.
Such a race would allow the winner to take office immediately, rather than in January when the next Congress convenes, he wrote in a column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"I want to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session," Cantor told the newspaper in an interview, referring to the period between the election and start of the new Congress.
It also would give the winner some seniority over the rest of the new class elected in November, he wrote.
Cantor, who was elected to the House in 2000 and served as House majority leader since 2011, unexpectedly lost to a Tea Party-backed college economics professor in June. The defeat stopped Cantor's bid for an eighth term but he had been expected to serve out his current term through December.
The Virginia lawmaker did not reveal his plans once he leaves office.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and Bill Trott)