Birthdate: June 6, 1963
Birth Place: Richmond, VA, United States
Residence: Richmond, VA
First Elected: 2000
District: District 7
Eric Cantor was born and resides in Richmond, Va. He earned a bachelor's degree from George Washington University, a master's degree in real estate from Columbia University and a law degree from the College of William and Mary.
Cantor's father was an attorney and Cantor worked in the family law firm and as a real estate developer. He was elected in 1991 to the Virginia House of Delegates, serving until his election to Congress in 2000.
Cantor and his wife, Diana, have three children.
Eric Cantor is the House majority leader, second in seniority in the House of Representatives only to Speaker John Boehner.
Since the Republicans took a majority in the U.S. House in the 2010 elections, Cantor has sometimes played the "bad cop" role in Republicans' standoffs with President Barack Obama's White House. That was most pronounced in the 2011 brinksmanship between the two sides over raising the nation's debt ceiling, a partisan shoving match that took the country within hours of defaulting on its debt for the first time and likely touching off a global economic shock.
During a Sunday negotiating session in July 2011, just ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the limit, Obama ended the White House meeting with senior congressional Democrats and Republicans after a confrontation with Cantor.
Cantor was critical of the Supreme Court's June 2012 decision to uphold the 2010 health care reform bill. He vowed that the House would fight to repeal the bill in favor of patient-centered reforms that lower costs and increase choice.
Cantor was an attack dog for the GOP against the Democratic White House even before he became majority leader. As House minority whip through 2010, Cantor opposed Democratic efforts to reform regulation of Wall Street. He had backed the 2008 financial industry bailouts pushed by President George W. Bush.
Cantor's rapid rise in the House prompted speculation that he might want to run for president someday. Asked about that in an interview on "CBS Sunday Morning," Cantor gestured to the ceiling and said: "I think if I were to even contemplate that, my wife might want to hang me up on one of those chandeliers."
Cantor is the sole Jewish Republican in the House and he has worked to increase support for the GOP among Jewish voters, who traditionally tilt Democratic.
He has been a leading advocate of legislation to expand the use of health savings accounts and make them more affordable by making their premiums tax deductible.
Cantor opposes driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and has voted to shield the food industry from obesity lawsuits.
Cantor was a leading advocate in the state Legislature for the interests of business and is best remembered for sponsoring a bill that would limit the legal liability of cigarette maker Philip Morris after a judgment in a Florida lawsuit. Philip Morris is one of the top employers in the Richmond region, where it operates the world's largest cigarette factory.
Cantor's 7th District embraces Richmond's affluent west-end suburbs and stretches northwestward to the Blue Ridge Mountains through a swath of conservative communities. It has been off-limits to Democrats for decades. It became only more conservative under the redistricting plan dominated by Virginia's Republican Legislature and signed into law by its Republican governor, Bob McDonnell.
Among the Democratic challengers who have come Cantor's way and lost are Ben L. Jones, an actor who played the comical mechanic Cooter on the 1980s sitcom set in hillbilly Appalachia "The Dukes of Hazzard."
His most recent challenger is Wayne Powell, a retired, decorated U.S. Army colonel who is now a Richmond-area lawyer in private practice. Powell is attacking Cantor's credentials as a fiscal conservative and trying to nationalize the race by portraying Cantor as a footman for the corporate interests that have enriched Cantor and his wife. Powell's political adviser is David "Mudcat" Saunders, an outspoken, country-fried Roanoke-based Democratic strategist best known for challenging his party's decision to forsake rural and southern voters.
Cantor's name surfaced in the spring of 2010 amid several threats against members of Congress. A 38-year-old Philadelphia man posted a video on the Internet in which he called Cantor "Lucifer" and said, "Remember Eric ... our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given." An affidavit filed in the case said Norman Leboon did not say he wanted to kill Cantor and authorities said Cantor was never in danger.
Authorities at around the same time also investigated an incident in which a bullet pierced a window in the downtown Richmond building that houses Cantor's campaign office and the office of his political consulting firm. Police concluded the shot was not targeted at Cantor.
Source: Associated Press