Eric Cantor, only Republican Jew in U.S. House, loses primary

U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) speaks at the 2011 Union for Reform Judaism biennial convention. Credit: Courtesy Union for Reform Judaism.

( Congressman Eric Cantor, the only Republican Jew serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and the House's majority leader, was defeated by Tea Party challenger Dave Brat on Tuesday night in what most observers are calling a stunning upset in the primary election for Virginia's 7th congressional district.

On Wednesday, reports said Cantor plans to step down as majority leader on July 31.

"We are disappointed that our friend Eric Cantor lost his primary race tonight, but we are proud of his many, many accomplishments in Congress," Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement. "He has been a hardworking representative of his district and a trusted leader in the House."

"Eric has been an important pro-Israel voice in the House and a leader on security issues, including Iran sanctions," added Brooks. "We deeply appreciate his efforts to keep our country secure and to support our allies around the world."

Brat's campaign argued that Cantor, a grandchild of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, is not conservative enough due to his support for some immigration reforms.

"Cong. Cantor was bested by a challenger who campaigned against sensible immigration policies, the kind of policies that enabled Mr. Cantor's family to become United States citizens," Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said in a statement. 

Posted on June 11, 2014 .