Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio announced that he will not run for re-election next year, citing “the chaotic political environment that currently infects our country,” the Associated Press reported.
His absence from the race opens the door for Max Miller—an ex-White House and campaign aide for former President Donald Trump—who would have faced Gonzalez in the 2022 primaries.
The former president gave his endorsement to Miller over Gonzalez, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the January 6 Capitol riot. Trump also rallied for Miller over the summer, AP reported.
Gonzales, 36, a former NFL player and the first Latino representative for Ohio in Congress, mentioned his family and “toxic dynamics” in the Republican party as reasons he decided not to seek re-election.
“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 decisions,” Gonzalez said in a statement released Thursday night.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
In a statement, Miller’s campaign called Gonzalez’s announcement “good news for the voters of our district,” and said Gonzalez had “dishonored the office by betraying his constituents” with his impeachment vote.
Gonzalez represents northeast Ohio’s 16th Congressional District.
The Ohio Republican Party censured Gonzalez in May for voting in February to impeach Trump. Gonzalez has stood by his impeachment vote in the face of fierce pushback from his party’s conservative wing.
It remains unclear whether any of the other House Republicans who joined Gonzalez in voting for impeachment will follow in his footsteps.
In an interview with the New York Times announcing his decision, Gonzalez called Trump “a cancer for the country” who represents a threat to democracy and said that January 6 had been “a line-in-the-sand moment” for him.
While he said there seemed to have been a moment then when the party might break with the former president, he has been dismayed by its decision to instead embrace 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 newspaper. “That’s not something I’m going to be part of.”
He said he plans to spend his time now working to prevent Trump from being elected to the White House again.
“Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal,” he said.
Trump called Gonzalez’s decision not to seek reelection “no loss for Ohio or our Country.” In a statement Friday that also praised Miller, the former president said Gonzalez quit after losing popularity following his vote for impeachment.