Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, is the first in the group to retire rather than face a tough primary challenge.
WASHINGTON – Former President Donald J. Calling Trump “a cancer for the country,” Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio said in an interview Thursday that he will not run for re-election in 2022, citing his seat after only two terms as the Trump-backed primary rival. in Congress instead of competing against.
Mr. Gonzalez is the first, but perhaps not the last, of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump after January 6. The president still thrilled for the former at a party instead of facing the brutal primaries next year at Capital Riot.
The Congressman, who has two young children, insisted that he was moving in large part because of family considerations and the difficulties he faced in living between the two cities. But he clarified that tensions had escalated since his impeachment vote, after which he faced threats and fear for the safety of his wife and children.
Mr. Gonzalez said that quality of life was paramount in his decision. He recalled an “eye-opening” moment this year: when he and his family were greeted by two uniformed police officers at a Cleveland airport, which was part of the extra security precautions following the impeachment vote.
“It’s one of those moments where you say, ‘Is this what I really want for my family when they travel, to pick up my wife and kids from the airport?'” he said.
Mr. Gonzalez, who turned 37 on Saturday, was a Republican recruit in the once prized party. A Cuban American who starred as an Ohio State wide receiver, he was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and then earned his MBA at Stanford when his football career was cut short by injuries. He claimed his Northeast Ohio seat in his first bid for political office.
Mr. Gonzalez, a conservative, largely supported the former president’s agenda. Yet he began to break ties with Trump and House Republican leaders when he sought to block the certification of last year’s presidential vote, and he was horrified by January 6 and its effects.
Still, he insisted he could prevail in what he acknowledged would be a “brutally difficult primary” against former Trump White House aide Max Miller, who was Supported by the former president in February
Yet as Mr. Gonzalez sat on a couch in his House office, with most of his aides still at home for the long summer break, he acknowledged that if that meant returning to the Trump-dominated House Republican caucus. They can’t bear the prospect of winning. .
“Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” he said. “You can fight your butt and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”
For Ohio, January 6 was “a line-in-the-sand moment” and Mr Trump represents nothing less than a threat to American democracy.
“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal.”
Mr Gonzalez said after the attack on the Capitol there was some uncertainty as to whether Republican leaders would continue to bow down to Trump.
But the removal of Representative Liz Cheney from his leadership position; the continued obedience of Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Minority Leader of the House; more recent decision Invite Mr. Trump to Keynote Republican fund-raisers in a prominent House were making the clear. At least in Washington, it is still Mr. Trump’s party.
“That’s the direction we’re going in for the next two years and potentially four years, and it’s going to make Trump the center of fundraising efforts and political outreach,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “It’s not something I’m going to be a part of.”
However, his decision to quit rather than fight ensured that the Congress wing of the party would only become more fully Trumpified. And it will raise questions about whether other Trump critics in the House will follow him to the exit. At the top of that watch list: Cheney and Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, who are both on an otherwise Democratic-dominated panel investigating the Capitol riot.
Asked how he could hope to clean up Mr Trump’s party if he himself was not prepared to face the former president in a proxy fight against Mr Miller next year, Mr Gonzalez insisted that now There are also Republicans in office who will defend “the basics of democracy.”
With more enthusiasm, he argued that Mr Trump has less of a grassroots Republican than party leaders, especially when it comes to whose 2024 ticket the rank-and-file wants to lead.
“Where I see a big difference, most people I speak to back home agree with the policies, but they also want us to move on from that person” and “the kind of outrage politics that has plagued the party.” has taken over,” Mr. Gonzalez said.
Congressional maps are due to be redrawn this year, and it’s unclear what Mr. Gonzalez’s district, 16th, will look like later. But he said he would not favor his successor at first, with more candidates likely to join.
He said that he would remain in the House till the end of his term unless something changed with his family.
Mr. Gonzalez was emphasizing that the threats weren’t why he was leaving – commuting was taking more effort, he said – but in a real fashion, he overheard people online saying, “We’ll go to your home.” are coming.”
In accordance with the advice given by House officials to all members, Mr. Gonzalez took a walk from a security advisor to ensure his home was well protected.
“This is a reflection of what our politics looked like after Jan. 6,” he said.
Mr Gonzalez said neither Mr Trump nor any of his mediators have tried to kick him out of the race.
Asked about Mr. Trump’s inevitable crowning on his exit from the primary, Mr. Gonzalez sacked the former president.
“I don’t care what he says or thinks, since January 6, when he continues to lie about the election, which I have a problem with,” he said.
What clearly bothers him, however, is the Republicans who continue to promote Mr Trump’s election lies, acts of appeasement that he said led the party to lose both chambers of Congress and the White House. The latter were morally wrong and politically unwise. .
“We have learned the wrong lesson as a party,” Mr. Gonzalez said, “but beyond that, and more importantly, it is extremely irresponsible and destructive to the country.”