Republican who voted to impeach Trump picks retirement over reelection

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez cites the “toxic dynamics” within the Republican Party for pushing him out of Congress

Published September 17, 2021 5:01PM (EDT)

Donald Trump | Impeachment Trial in the Senate Chamber (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump | Impeachment Trial in the Senate Chamber (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, will not run for re-election in 2022.

"While my desire to build a fuller family life is at the heart of my decision, it is also true that the current state of our politics, especially many of the toxic dynamics inside our own party, is a significant factor in my decision," said Gonzalez, 36, in a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday.

While his two young children and wife, Elizabeth, were central to his decision to give up his seat after only two terms, the former president also played a large part in the congressman's choice. 

"This is the direction that we're going to go in for the next two years and potentially four, and it's going to make Trump the center of fund-raising efforts and political outreach," he said in an interview with The New York Times on Thursday. "That's not something I'm going to be part of."

His vote to impeach Trump put him at odds, not only with the former president, but with furious constituents and Ohio's Republican Party leaders, who called for his resignation earlier this year. 

In the interview, Gonzalez did not shy away from his criticism of Trump, referring to him as a "cancer for the country." The Cuban-American congressman also admitted he would rather concede his seat than run in a "brutally hard primary" against his Trump-backed opponent: Max Miller

In February, Trump gave his first "Complete and Total Endorsement" to Miller, 32, a loyalist and former White House aide. Not only did Miller serve the former president in the White House, but he worked with Trump on both the 2016 and 2020 campaign trails, earning Trump's highest praise as a "great guy" during his first rally after leaving office. 

Miller launched his campaign for Ohio's 16th congressional district with a statement against the incumbent, claiming in a tweet that Gonzalez "betrayed" Northeast Ohioans with his vote.

Gonzalez is now the first of the 10 Republicans who voted in favor of the impeachment to drop out of the re-election race —  and he may not be the last.

"RINO Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who has poorly represented his district in the Great State of Ohio, has decided to quit after enduring a tremendous loss of popularity, of which he had little, since his ill-informed and otherwise very stupid impeachment vote against the sitting President of the United States, me," Trump said in response to Gonzalez's resignation, in a statement issued by his PAC.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wisconsin, one of the other 10 Republicans to vote for Trump's impeachment and a main target of his political attacks against pro-impeachment Republicans, tweeted a response to Trump's statement: "On Constitution Day, Donald Trump's statement about Rep. Anthony Gonzalez reminds us all, once again, that Trump is at war with the Constitution."

Gonzalez himself also dismissed Trump's comments against him during the interview. "I haven't cared what he says or thinks since Jan. 6," he said. "outside when he continues to lie about the election, which I have a problem with."

He will continue serve out the remainder of his term in office, he explained, so long as nothing changes with his family. "I simply wish to thank the incredible people of the 16th district for allowing me the privilege of serving."

By Rocio Fabbro

Rocio Fabbro is an Editorial Intern with Salon's News & Politics desk and an undergraduate student at New York University. Follow her on Twitter @rociofabbro.

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Anthony Gonzales Donald Trump Gop Impeachment Republican Party