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Eric Cantor

(1963 - )

Eric Cantor is a Jewish American politician who served in the U.S. House of Representatives as House Majority Leader from 2011-2014.  Eric Cantor was named the first Jewish whip in the House of Representatives in 2009, and became the first Jewish Floor Leader in the House of Representatives in 2011.  

Cantor (born June 6, 1963) was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia and attended an elite, private Protestant-based school as a child although he grew up affiliating with the Conservative movement of Judaism. While attending George Washington University, he got his political start interning with Congressman Tom Bliley and served as his driver on his first re-election campaign. He then attended the College of William and Mary, where he received his law degree, and went on to get his Masters at Columbia University in New York. While in New York, Cantor met his wife Diana and brought her back to Virginia where they now raise their three children, Evan, Jenna and Michael, who attend Henrico County Public Schools.

Before his election to Congress, Cantor served in the Virginia House of Delegates for nine years and achieved a record of accomplishment as a state legislator that was recognized by groups such as Virginia Free, the leading pro-business organization in Virginia, as well as the Virginia Family Foundation and the Virginia Health Care Association.

On January 3, 2001, Cantor was sworn in as U.S. Congressman for Virginia’s Seventh District. During his first term in Congress, Cantor served on the House Financial Services Committee and on the House International Relations Committee. On January 31, 2001, Cantor became the first freshman member of the 107th Congress to author legislation that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

On April 1, 2001, Cantor was selected to serve as Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, a coalition of Members of Congress studying the threats international terrorism poses to the U.S. and developing policy proposals and legislative recommendations regarding the fight against terrorism. He is a strong supporter of Israel.

In November 2002, Cantor won reelection to Congress, obtaining 70% of the vote. Shortly after his reelection, Cantor was selected to serve as Chief Deputy Majority Whip, the highest appointed position in the House of Representatives.

On January 10, 2003, Cantor won a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has direct jurisdiction over taxes, trade, Social Security, Medicare, prescription drugs for seniors, health care and welfare reform.. Congressman Cantor is the 34th Virginian to be appointed to the Ways and Means Committee. James Madison was the first Virginian to serve on the committee during the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Congresses. John Tyler served on the committee during the 16th Congress. However, in the last two decades, only one other Virginian has served on the committee.

On February 28, 2003, Cantor was appointed by Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert to the United States Holocaust Museum Council, following years of involvement in the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond.

On April 10, 2003, President George Bush nominated Eric to the Board of Trustees of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation. The Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 for the purpose of improving teaching about the United States Constitution in secondary schools.

From 2003 to 2009, Cantor served in the role of House Chief Deputy Whip and then from 2009 to 2011 as House Minority Whip. When the Republicans won control of the House in 2011, Cantor became the House Majority Leader.

In June 2014, Cantor lost his bid for re-election to the House of Representives when he was suprisingly defeated in the Republican primary by a tea-party challenger, David Brat. Following the loss, Cantor announced that he would be resigning his post as House Majority Leader effective July 2014. His loss in the primary marked the first time that a sitting House Majority Leader had lost his reelection primary.

Sources: Congressman Eric Cantor; Insight Magazine (November 11-24, 2003); The Atlantic (June 10, 2014); Wikipedia