Virginia's 7th Congressional District special election, 2014

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Virginia's 7th Congressional District

General Election Date
November 4, 2014

Primary Date
June 10, 2014

Incumbent prior to election:
Eric Cantor Republican Party
Eric Cantor.JPG

Race Ratings
Cook Political Report: Solid Republican[1]

Sabato's Crystal Ball: Safe R[2]

Virginia U.S. House Elections
District 1District 2District 3District 4District 5District 6District 7District 8District 9District 10District 11

2014 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of Virginia.png
The 7th Congressional District of Virginia will hold a special election for the U.S. House in 2014. The special election will be held to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Rep. Eric Cantor.[3]

Voters in Virginia's 7th District will cast two votes in November -- one to fill the remaining two months of Cantor's term and one to fill the two-year term beginning in January. Election officials in Virginia are worried that having two sets names on the ballot will confuse voters, especially those casting absentee ballots. Henrico County registrar Mark Coakley said, “I would hate for someone overseas to get a ballot thinking we misprinted it and send it back."[4]

David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, will face his colleague Jack Trammell (D), who is also a professor at Randolph-Macon, in the special election and the regular election. Brat and Trammell will face Libertarian James Carr in the regular election, but Carr will not appear on the special election ballot because he failed to turn in 1,000 signatures within 10 days after the special election was announced. Signatures are only required from third party candidates. Carr may file a lawsuit against Virginia's State Board of Elections to appear on the ballot.[5]

Brat defeated incumbent Eric Cantor, who was the second-highest ranking Republican in the House at the time, in the Republican primary on June 10, 2014.[6] The defeat caused Cantor to resign as House Majority Leader on July 31, 2014, and resign from the House on August 18, 2014.[3]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
August 15, 2014
No primary for special election
November 4, 2014

Primary: Virginia is one of 14 states that uses an open primary process, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[7]

Voter registration: Voters had to register to vote in the primary by February 10, 2014. For the general election, the voter registration deadline is October 14, 2014 (22 days before election).[8]

See also: Virginia elections, 2014

Incumbent: Eric Cantor (R) was first elected in 2000.

Virginia's 7th Congressional District is located in the central portion of the state and includes Culpeper, Orange, Spotsylvania, Louisa, Hanover, Richmond City and New Kent counties.[9]


Failed to file

Race background

Signature-filing deadline

After Gov. Terry McAuliffe authorized the special election, third party candidates had 10 days to submit 1,000 signatures from registered voters to the State Board of Elections. Republican and Democratic candidates did not need to submit any signatures. Instead, David Brat (R) and Jack Trammell (D) were nominated by their local parties.[10][4] Libertarian James Carr submitted enough signatures to appear on the ballot for the regular election, but he did not submit the required number of signatures to appear on the special election ballot. According to Style Weekly, Carr "is likely to file a lawsuit against the elections board Tuesday. He cites a 4th Circuit Court precedent that eases requirements in special elections."[5]

Carr noted that this setback will not change his campaign strategy. He said, “Our entire approach has been to get out and talk to as many people as possible. The only thing that is going to change is we’re going to have to illustrate to voters that they have an option to write me in.”[5]

Unprecedented loss

An unprecedented loss by Cantor gave him the dubious distinction of being the first-ever sitting House Majority Leader to lose a primary bid. The upset victory by Randolf-Macon College professor David Brat put Republicans in the U.S. House into a leadership scramble.

Cantor spent over $1 million dollars in the last month of the election, compared to Brat, who barely raised $100,000 during the entire primary campaign, according to FEC filings.

After his defeat, Cantor announced that he would step down as House Majority Leader.[11] Kevin McCarthy, former House Majority Whip, took over as House Majority Leader after Eric Cantor gave up the position on July 31, 2014.[12]

Cantor resignation

Cantor resigned from the House of Representatives on August 18, 2014, to avoid a lame-duck session. He asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to call a special election for his district that coincides with the general election on November 4 so that the winner can take office immediately, rather than waiting to start in January with the 114th Congress.[3]

Cantor explained his early resignation saying, “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.”[3] Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said while Cantor's resignation was a “generous gesture,” his motivation may not have been purely altruistic. “It’s highly probable that he has a very lucrative deal in the works for his post-Congress life, and he’s eager to get started,” said Sabato.[3]

Cantor's defeat in the June 10, 2014, Republican primary set off the following chain of events:

  • June 10, 2014: Brat defeated Cantor, making him the first-ever sitting House Majority Leader to lose a primary bid.
  • June 11, 2014: Cantor announced that he would step down as House Majority Leader.
  • July 31, 2014: Cantor officially resigned as House Majority Leader and announced his resignation from Congress, effective August 18, 2014.
  • August 18, 2014: Cantor resigned from Congress.
  • November 4, 2014: A special election that coincides with the general election will be held in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

District history

Candidate ballot accecss
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The 7th Congressional District of Virginia held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. Incumbent Eric Cantor won re-election in the district.[13]

U.S. House, Virginia District 7 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic E. Wayne Powell 41.4% 158,012
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngEric Cantor Incumbent 58.4% 222,983
     Write-In N/A 0.2% 914
Total Votes 381,909
Source: Virginia State Board of Elections "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"


On November 2, 2010, Eric Cantor won re-election to the United States House. He defeated Rick E. Waugh, Jr. (D) and Floyd C. Bayne (G) in the general election.[14]

U.S. House, Virginia District 7 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngEric Cantor incumbent 59.2% 138,209
     Democratic Rick E. Waugh 34.1% 79,616
     Green Floyd C. Bayne 6.5% 15,164
     N/A Write-in 0.2% 413
Total Votes 233,402

See also

External links