Even after the GOP lost its congressional majorities and the presidency under Donald Trump’s leadership, absolute fealty to Trump remains a prerequisite for being a good Republican in the eyes of most party activists.
The continued reality of the former president’s iron grip on the Republican Party has persuaded Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over inciting the January 6 United States Capitol attack, to announce his retirement.
Despite Gonzalez’s conservative voting record, fears for his family’s safety amid the backlash he received from that vote led him to today’s decision.
The Washington Examiner reports:
“Politically, the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” Gonzalez told the New York Times. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”
Gonzalez, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, backed much of Trump’s agenda while he was in office. But Gonzalez said the riot was “a line-in-the-sand moment” for him, and he sees the former president as “a cancer for the country.”
“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Gonzalez said. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal.”
Trump wasted no time gloating after Gonzalez’s announcement. The former president previously endorsed Max Miller in the primary to replace Gonzalez. Miller is the scion of one of metropolitan Cleveland’s wealthiest families. The 32-year-old previously served as the deputy campaign manager for Trump’s re-election campaign and recently was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
In the run-up to the 2022 midterms, Trump is backing multiple candidates running against Republicans who voted to impeach him. Meanwhile, aspiring House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) financially supports several GOP lawmakers who voted for impeachment, quietly believing outspoken pro-Trump candidates can’t win in moderate districts.