Cantor’s Trojan Horse?

I have a question for someone who is an expert in election law in Virginia.

Eric Cantor announced that he will be stepping down from his Congressional seat on August 18. He asked Governor McAuliffe to hold a special election in November so that the candidate who wins his seat will automatically be able to fill the seat. Cantor stated that he wants the special election so his constituents have a representative they want in Congress.

My question: Due to Virginia’s sore loser law, Cantor cannot officially run for re-election because he lost his party’s primary election. More specifically, his name cannot be printed on a general election ballot for his Congressional seat. However, is it possible for him to have his name printed on a ballot for a special election? The sore loser law only mentions the general election, not a special election:

“A candidate for nomination by primary for any office shall be required to file a written declaration of candidacy on a form prescribed by the State Board. The declaration shall include … a statement that, if defeated in the primary, his name is not to be printed on the ballots for that office in the succeeding general election.”

Do special elections have to follow the rules of general elections?

Alsoa more general political science question, what else could Cantor get out of resigning early?  Are there other benefits to giving up power early, suggesting that this is more strategic than pure altruism?

About Julie VanDusky-Allen

Julie VanDusky-Allen is at Boise State University and received her PhD in Political Science from Binghamton University in 2011. Her research focuses on institutional choice and development, political parties, the legislative process, and Latin American politics.

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