Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, one of 10 US House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January, said Thursday he would not seek reelection, citing the “toxic” atmosphere in a party that remains enthralled by the former president.
The two-term back-bencher from Ohio stressed that family considerations played a substantial role in his decision, but he acknowledged the difficult political scenario, one in which he would have had to face a Trump-endorsed primary challenger next year.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Gonzalez was more blunt in an interview in Thursday’s New York Times, assailing Trump as “a cancer for the country” for inspiring his supporters to launch the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.
“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” he told the daily.
Gonzalez, a 36-year-old conservative, is the first among the House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to retire rather than endure what is undoubtedly a brutal season of primaries ahead.
Trump, who remains hugely influential in the party, has made clear he will work tirelessly to help defeat those Republicans who sought to oust him.
They include Liz Cheney, who lost her House Republican leadership position when she refused to tone down her criticism of the former president.
Trump has already announced his support for a former Trump aide, Max Miller, running for Gonzalez’s seat.
Several House Democrats tweeted out their appreciation of Gonzalez after his announcement.
He and the other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump “are paying a price for doing the right thing,” congressman Brendan Boyle said. “But they will be vindicated by history.”