GOP lawmaker retires, calling Trump a 'cancer for the country'

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Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) was one of 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Donald Trump and has since faced threats to his family.  

A two-term Republican House member once deemed a rising star for the GOP announced on Thursday that he won't seek reelection for a third term, citing what he described as former President Donald Trump's "toxic" chokehold on his party.

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) — who was one of the 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the violent and deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — told the New York Times that Trump is "a cancer for the country," and that he largely decided to retire because of the threats he faced after his impeachment vote.

He described to the New York Times an instance where his family was met by uniformed police officers after getting off a plane at the Cleveland airport thanks to new security measures following his vote to impeach Trump.

"That’s one of those moments where you say, 'Is this really what I want for my family when they travel, to have my wife and kids escorted through the airport?'" Gonzalez told the Times.

Trump in February endorsed a primary challenger against Gonzalez following the impeachment vote. The challenger, Max Miller, was a Trump White House adviser who also served as deputy campaign manager for Trump's failed 2020 reelection bid.

While Gonzalez told the Times he feels he could defeat Miller in a primary, he said winning wouldn't be worth it because he'd be unhappy in a GOP conference where opposing Trump is grounds for punishment.

"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," Gonzalez wrote in a statement announcing his retirement.

Gonzalez is not the only Republican whom Trump has opposed for not being sufficiently loyal.

Trump is also seeking to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), also one of the 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump and one who has been a loud critic of the ex-president for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Cheney, who plans to run for reelection despite the effort by her own party to oust her, lamented Gonzalez's retirement.

"America needs serious principled leaders of character like my friend and colleague, Anthony Gonzalez," Cheney tweeted after Gonzalez's announcement. "His courageous dedication to the Constitution has been an example for all Americans. He will be a major force in our nation’s politics and government for many years to come."

Gonzalez — who was a first-round draft pick in the NFL and successfully played in the league for five years before going back to college to receive a master's in business administration from Stanford University — first came to Congress in 2018.

In Congress, he voted with Trump 85.7% of the time, according to a FiveThirtyEight tracker.

However, Trump turned on Gonzalez after Gonzalez vocally criticized Trump for his conduct on Jan. 6.

"The President of the United States helped organize and incite a mob that attacked the United States Congress in an attempt to prevent us from completing our solemn duties as prescribed by the Constitution," Gonzalez wrote in a statement defending his decision to impeach Trump.

He added that Trump's actions put numerous lives "in grave danger" and that Trump "abandoned his post while many members asked for help."

In the end, Gonzalez told the New York Times he has no desire to serve in a party that demands fealty to Trump.

"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," Gonzalez told the Times. "That's not something I'm going to be part of."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.