“You’ve got significant telecom, defense and aerospace presence in the area,” Cantor, 51, said Monday in a conference call with reporters. “It’s just becoming a very diverse and rapidly expanding private sector.”
Cantor said his focus will be on recruiting new clients for the New York-based firm in the region, as well as advising Moelis clients who are trying to analyze the next big moves by the Congress and administration. He will not register as a lobbyist, and his new boss, Ken Moelis, told reporters that Cantor's role would not involve advocating for outcomes with Washington officials on behalf of clients.
In a parallel universe in which Cantor won his Republican primary last June, Cantor might now be the House speaker -- speculation had hit fever pitch over House Speaker John A. Boehner's intentions. Once Cantor lost, however, the Ohio Republican announced that he would stay on at least through 2016.
Instead of corralling support for the next GOP move on a potential government shutdown, Cantor is hoping to corral new clients for the firm from the area's booming private sector. The Moelis office will be on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, exactly halfway between the Capitol and the White House.
In the conference call with Cantor, Moelis said he believes that the region's "inexorable growth" has turned a corner that is almost impossible to stop. "Once you reach that kind of tipping point, it continues to grow," he said.
Cantor is splitting his time among his native Richmond, an Arlington home he purchased years ago and New York. While he reiterated he has no interest in returning to elective politics, Cantor remains active on the fundraising side.
Last week he attended a fundraising event for a political committee benefiting former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and on Thursday he's co-hosting an event with Richmond business leaders to meet New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Both Bush and Christie are in the early stages of launching 2016 campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination.
His stunning defeat last June -- to Dave Brat, a conservative college professor with little financial support -- forced Cantor to empty his political account. He had to return more than $1.5 million in donations (money that was donated for the general election campaign that he never got to run), leaving his old campaign account with $30,000.