For the highest-ranking Jewish representative in Congress, elections are mainly about helping others. Majority leader Eric Cantor crisscrossed the country this election year, helping out struggling fellow Republicans with a boost of energy and campaign cash.
At 49, Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, has established himself as a political powerhouse mentioned in any shortlist of future GOP leaders. The leap of close friend and fellow Republican “Young Gun” Paul Ryan to the presidential ticket also highlighted Cantor’s bright future in the party.
But Cantor’s rise to the second-ranking position in the House of Representatives has also come at some political cost. With Congress, and especially House Republicans, being portrayed as obstructionists and blamed by the public for a stalemate in Washington, Cantor has taken a hit. Though he easily won reelection in his home district in Richmond, Va., Cantor was forced to defend himself from claims that he is part of the Washington political machine.
In Jewish politics, nonetheless, Cantor’s stardom has not diminished, and he is the most sought-after speaker at events hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition. Speaking at fundraisers and Jewish political gatherings, Cantor often expresses his wish to lose his exclusive status as the only Jewish Republican on Capitol Hill and to see other Jewish GOP members get elected to office.