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W&M alumnus elected first house majority leader from Virginia

  • New majority leader
    New majority leader  Congressman Eric Cantor, J.D. ’88 has been elected the first majority leader from Virginia in the House of Representatives today.  Courtesy photo
  • Two alumni
    Two alumni  Eric Cantor recently appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart '84, another William & Mary alumnus.  
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Congressman Eric Cantor, J.D. ’88 has been unanimously elected the first majority leader from Virginia in the House of Representatives today, according to several news sources Wednesday afternoon.  As House majority leader, he ranks second only to Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, who will become speaker of the House when Congress convenes on January 5.

Cutler Professor of Law and Kelly Professor of Teaching Excellence Jayne Barnard, who taught Cantor while he was attending William & Mary Law School, said she remembers him “vividly.”  As a student in her Corporations class, "He was a regular and energetic contributor to class discussion,” said Barnard.   

Eric Cantor J.D. '88Cantor, who represents Virginia's 7th district, first won election to Congress in 2000.  In 2008, he was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Republican Whip; and leads the House Republican Economics Solutions Group, chairs the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, and is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. 

"Eric Cantor has repeatedly answered the call to public service -- as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, as a U.S. congressman, as House Minority Whip, and now as House Majority Leader," said Davison M. Douglas, dean of William & Mary Law School. “I am proud to see a graduate of the Law School play such an important role in our nation’s government.”

Before going to Congress, Cantor was a lawyer in Henrico County and a real estate developer.  He served nine years in the House of Delegates representing the 73rd District in parts of Henrico and Richmond.

The leadership position of House majority leader was created in 1899 by then House Speaker David B. Henderson.  Today, the House majority leader is chosen by the majority party's membership prior to the launch of a new Congress.  The responsibilities include the scheduling of legislation for Floor consideration and the planning of daily, weekly and annual legislative agendas.    

“I am humbled by the trust that my colleagues have placed in me and am eager to get to work and start delivering results," said Cantor in a press release.

Cantor, who is a lifelong resident of the Richmond area, also makes history as the first Jewish House majority leader. He and his wife, Diana, have three children, Evan, Jenna and Michael.