Virginia U.S. Representatives have lost renomination or reelection bids more than 100 times since statehood but Cantor is just the second to subsequently resign and the first to do so after a failed renomination bid

ericcantor10.jpgVirginia Republican Eric Cantor’s announcement last week that he would resign from his seat on August 18th is the latest development in the ever-shortening political half-life of the former U.S. House Majority Leader.

Shortly after his historic primary defeat to Dave Brat in June in which he became the first majority leader to lose a renomination bid and the first GOP U.S. Representative from Virginia to lose a renomination bid since 1888 after 160 consecutive wins, Cantor announced he would step down from his leadership position – subsequently filled by California’s Kevin McCarthy.

But now Cantor is quitting Congress altogether with four months and 16 days left in his seventh term.

Cantor stated he was resigning so that his successor, presumably fellow GOPer Dave Brat, would “have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session” though some Republicans on the Hill said he simply could not bear serving out his term.

To be sure, many of the more than 400 U.S. Representatives to serve Virginia in the chamber have lost their seats since the 18th Century.

But how unusual is it for one to quit their job after doing so?

A Smart Politics analysis finds that Virginia U.S. Representatives have lost their renomination or reelection bids more than 100 times since statehood, but Eric Cantor is only the second of these to quit Congress and the first after losing his party’s nomination.

Since statehood, 413 men and women have been elected to the U.S. House from Virginia.

A total of 99 of these U.S. Representatives lost their party’s nomination or were defeated in the general election a total of 108 times. (Note: Several members had multiple stints in the chamber with nine losing reelection and/or renomination twice).

However, only Eric Cantor and one other Virginia U.S. Representative resigned after losing their seat – Republican Joel Broyhill in 1974.

Broyhill, however, resigned with just three days left in his term – a far cry from the 138 days remaining in Cantor’s term come August 18th.

Back in 1974, Broyhill was finishing his 11th term and had intended to retire, but was persuaded to run for a 12th by former colleague and then Vice President Gerald Ford.

Broyhill then lost his seat in the general election to Democrat Joseph Fisher during the post-Watergate Democratic landslide.

After his defeat, Representative Broyhill remained in office for nearly two months until resigning three days before the end of his term on December 31st along with nearly three-dozen members of Congress.

Cantor is actually one of many Virginia U.S. Representatives to resign from office, with 41, or 10 percent doing so over the past 225 years.

Approximately two-thirds of these (27) resigned after having been appointed, nominated, or elected to a different governmental post or office or having decided to campaign for a higher office.

Such notable congressmen include:

Federalist John Marshall, who resigned in his first term in June 1800 to become Secretary of State under John Adams. Marshall would later become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jacksonian Andrew Stevenson, who resigned as Speaker of the House in June 1834 during his seventh term after he was nominated to be Minister of United Kingdom by Andrew Jackson. The Senate blocked his appointment, though Stevenson would be appointed to the same post once again two years later and confirmed by the upper legislative chamber.

Others resignations include:

● Democrats Charles O’Ferrall (1893) and Claude Swanson (1906) left the House after being elected governor of Virginia while Democrats Colgate Darden (1941) and Thomas Stanley (1953) did so to campaign for governor (both won).

● Jeffersonian Republican Andrew Moore (1804) and Democrat Thomas Burch (1946) were appointed to the U.S. Senate and Jeffersonian Republicans James Pleasants (1819) and John Randolph (1825), Unionist John Carlile (1861), and Democrat Absalom Robertson (1946) were elected to the U.S. Senate.

● Democrat Thomas Gilmer (1844) was appointed Secretary of the Navy by John Tyler and Democrat Carter Glass (1918) was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by Woodrow Wilson.

Several other U.S. Representatives resigned after being appointed or elected to various judicial posts or appointed as U.S. Ministers to various nations.

As for the other Virginia U.S. Representatives to resign from office, two did so due to health afflictions:

● Jeffersonian Republican John Jackson had to resign in September 1810 due to being wounded in a duel with Federalist Joseph Pearson of North Carolina who shot him in the hip.

● Republican Daniel Slaughter resigned in November 1991 after suffering a series of minor strokes.

While three resigned mid-term to take up offers from business interests:

● Democrat Winder Harris quit Congress in September 1944 to become Vice President of the Shipbuilders’ Council of America

● Democrat Dave Satterfield resigned in February 1945 to become general counsel and executive director of the Life Insurance Association of America at New York City

● Democrat Clifton Woodrum resigned later that same year in December to accept the position of president of the American Plant Food Council, Inc.

And there were a few other odd resignations of note in Virginia history:

Democrat Joel Holleman announced he would resign if Whig William Henry Harrison carried his district in the 1840 presidential race. Harrison did, en route to his victory, and Holleman resigned that December.

Democrat Charles Carlin resigned at the end of his sixth term in March 1919, even though he had just been elected to a seventh term in the 1918 cycle.

Five others resigned for undisclosed or unknown reasons in the early 18th Century, but none had lost their renomination bids or been defeated at the ballot box.

Virginia U.S. Representatives Who Resigned Since Statehood

US Rep.
June 7, 1800
John Marshall
Appointed Secretary of State by John Adams
May 22, 1804
Wilson Nicholas
Jeffersonian Republican
Collector of the port of Norfolk
August 11, 1804
Andrew Moore
Jeffersonian Republican
Appointed to U.S. Senate
July 1, 1806
Christopher Clark
Jeffersonian Republican
September 28, 1810
John Jackson
Jeffersonian Republican
Health (wounded in a duel)
March 3, 1815
William Giles
Jeffersonian Republican
December 10, 1819
James Pleasants
Jeffersonian Republican
Elected to U.S. Senate
February 1, 1820
James Johnson
Jeffersonian Republican
Appointed collector of customs at Norfolk
February 10, 1820
George Strother
Jeffersonian Republican
Appointed Receiver of Public Money in Missouri
July 26, 1820
James Pindall
January 14, 1823
Hugh Nelson
Jeffersonian Republican
Appointed Minister to Spain by James Monroe
December 26, 1825
John Randolph
Jeffersonian Republican
Appointed to U.S. Senate
October 15, 1830
Philip Barbour
Appointed judge of U.S. Circuit Court for Eastern District of Virignia by Andrew Jackson
June 2, 1834
Andrew Stevenson
Nominated to be Minister of United Kingdom by Andrew Jackson (failed in US Sen)
January 11, 1837
John Mason
Appointed U.S. district judge for Eastern District of Virginia by Andrew Jackson
April 7, 1838
John Patton
December 26, 1839
Charles Mercer
December 1, 1840
Joel Holleman
Pledged to resign if Wm. Harrison won his district
February 12, 1844
Henry Wise
Appointed Minister to Brazil by John Tyler
February 16, 1844
Thomas Gilmer
Appointed Secretary of the Navy by John Tyler
July 30, 1852
George Thompson
Elected judge of circuit court of Virginia
July 9, 1861
John Carlile
Elected to U.S. Senate
September 5, 1883
John Paul, Sr.
Appointed judge of U.S. District Court for Western District of Virginia by Chester Arthur
December 28, 1893
Charles O’Ferrall
Elected governor
January 30, 1906
Claude Swanson
Elected governor
October 1, 1916
James Hay
Appointed judge of U.S. Court of Claims by Woodrow Wilson
December 16, 1918
Carter Glass
Appointed Secretary of the Treasury by Woodrow Wilson
March 3, 1919
Charles Carlin
Had been reelected to U.S. House
February 29, 1920
Edward Saunders
Elected judge of Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
March 1, 1941
Colgate Darden
Ran for governor (elected)
September 15, 1944
Winder Harris
vice president, Shipbuilders’ Council of America
February 15, 1945
Dave Satterfield
general counsel and executive director of the Life Insurance Association of America at New York City
December 31, 1945
Clifton Woodrum
president of the American Plant Food Council, Inc
May 31, 1946
Thomas Burch
Appointed to U.S. Senate
November 5, 1946
Absalom Robertson
Elected to U.S. Senate
April 17, 1948
James Almond
Elected Attorney General of Virginia
February 3, 1953
Thomas Stanley
Ran for governor (elected)
August 29, 1972
Richard Poff
Appointed justice of Supreme Court of Virginia
December 31, 1974
Joel Broyhill
Lost reelection
November 5, 1991
Daniel Slaughter
Health (strokes)
August 18, 2014
Eric Cantor
Lost nomination

Compiled by Smart Politics with biographical information provided by the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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