U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez announced Thursday that he won't seek reelection in 2022, underscoring the precarious political fight he faced after voting to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Gonzalez, who was first elected to Ohio's 16th Congressional District in 2018, attributed his decision to the "current state of our politics" and a toxic environment within his own Republican Party. In an interview with the New York Times, Gonzalez indicated that he didn't want to be part of a GOP that continues to put Trump front and center.
"Given the political realities of the day, I know this news will come as a disappointment to those who have been involved in our efforts," he said in a statement.
Gonzalez was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a move that almost instantly made him a target to the former president and his allies. The Ohio Republican Party voted in May to censure Gonzalez and called on him to resign.
The impeachment vote also attracted a primary challenge from former Trump adviser Max Miller. Trump visited Ohio in June to raise money for Miller and held a rally where he painted Gonzalez as a "grandstanding RINO (Republican in Name Only)."
"He’s not the candidate you want representing the Republican Party," Trump said. "He’s the candidate of Liz Cheney."
On Friday, Trump again attacked Gonzalez in a statement issued through his political action committee, saying Gonzalez had "poorly represented his district" and had fallen out of favor with voters after his "ill-informed and otherwise very stupid impeachment vote."
Trump turned his attention to @MaxMillerOH and touted the work he did for Trump in the White House. He also called @RepAGonzalez a “grandstanding RINO.”
“He’s not the candidate you want representing the Republican Party. He’s the candidate of Liz Cheney.”
— Haley BeMiller (@haleybemiller) June 27, 2021
Cheney, who also voted to impeach Trump, announced a joint fundraising venture with Gonzalez over the summer. The group formed shortly before the close of the second quarter and therefore has yet to report any fundraising or spending to the Federal Election Commission.
Gonzalez said his desire to spend more time with family is at the core of his decision not to seek reelection. But in his interview with the New York Times, he also maintained that the political environment has become increasingly poisoned and blasted Republicans who continue to placate baseless claims that the 2020 election was illegitimate.
“We’ve learned the wrong lesson as a party, but beyond that, and more importantly, it’s horribly irresponsible and destructive for the country," he told the Times.
Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez won't seek reelection in 2022