WASHINGTON—Rep. Eric I. Cantor became the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House today, winning an uncontested election as party whip.
Cantor is the first Virginian to hold the post in either party. As whip, he will work to coordinate the votes and messages of GOP House members.
Cantor has served as the chief deputy whip since 2002 when then-whip Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., appointed him to the post. Cantor’s safe Republican Virginia district, relative youth (he’s 45) and prolific fundraising have led to his being mentioned as a potential Speaker of the House down the road.
Blunt did not seek reelection to the Republican leadership team after the party lost seats in the Nov. 4 elections and fell deeper into minority status. The House runs strictly by majority rules.
In a letter campaigning for the job Tuesday, Cantor called for his party to be the “honest opposition” to the new Democratic administration but suggested avoiding social wedge issues.
The Republican whip post has been home to some of the most notable Republicans of past decades. Past whips have included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.
Aside from Gingrich, the whip position has not been a stepping stone to the speakership.
The job comes with extra staff and office funding and some choice space inside the Capitol Building, where Cantor currently has a smaller space as chief deputy whip.