Former President Donald Trump's rise to power transformed the Republican party from one claiming to value fiscal responsibility and states' independence to openly embracing overtly racist rhetoric, defending an onslaught of lies, and supporting the federal overthrow of a peaceful transfer of power.
By and large, Republican elected officials have remained loyal to Trump, with only a few willing to step out of line, usually at the expense of their careers. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming was censured by her state's Republican party and removed from her role as GOP Conference Chair for her public opposition to Trump. Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the GOP nominee less than a decade ago, is now persona non grata and was shunned from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for his vote to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial.
Now, Republican Congressman Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio—once thought to be a rising star in the Republican party—has announced he won't seek reelection, avoiding a primary against a Trump-endorsed candidate in 2022.
See my full statement below regarding my decision not to seek re-election. https://t.co/vsggxjD1FI— Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (@Rep. Anthony Gonzalez) 1631840764.0
"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."
In comments to the New York Times following the announcement, Gonzalez warned that Trump was
"[a] cancer for the country. ... I don't believe he can ever be president again. Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal."
It was only a matter of hours before Trump issued a statement demonstrating the toxicity against which Gonzalez warned.
NEW! "RINO Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who has poorly represented his district in the Great State of Ohio, has d… https://t.co/C4rowRQ31l— Liz Harrington (@Liz Harrington) 1631883692.0
"RINO Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who has poorly represented his district in the Great State of Ohio, has decided to quit after enduring a tremendous loss of popularity, of which he had little, since his ill-informed and otherwise very stupid impeachment vote against the sitting President of the United States, me. ... Good riddance to Anthony, he can now get himself a job at ratings-dead CNN or MSDNC!"
The news made waves on social media, and some said this wouldn't be the last the country sees of Gonzalez.
America needs serious principled leaders of character like my friend and colleague, Anthony Gonzalez. His courageou… https://t.co/kZJIlAKK9r— Liz Cheney (@Liz Cheney) 1631849333.0
.@RepAGonzalez is a dear friend. I’m not going to wax philosophical on this post. Will only say we haven’t seen the… https://t.co/wYHU9fPRb6— Denver Riggleman (@Denver Riggleman) 1631878216.0
I’m truly disheartened to hear this. Rep. Gonzalez showed integrity and courage when it mattered most, and he is on… https://t.co/XRdU8imc0d— Allison Russo (@Allison Russo) 1631843254.0
Let me break this down for you in honest, plain terms since none of them will speak out until after they have fled:… https://t.co/eY9JZitglO— Amee Vanderpool (@Amee Vanderpool) 1631872316.0
His decision said a mouthful about the current state of the GOP.
The GOP should be absolutely ashamed of itself. A sitting member of Congress, retiring because of the “toxic dynami… https://t.co/cUjnqDbl0p— Heath Mayo (@Heath Mayo) 1631853465.0
His departure is more proof, if any was needed, that the Republican Party is basically the Donald Trump Party. https://t.co/OxJsGlWz42— S.V. Dáte (@S.V. Dáte) 1631841778.0
I have competed against Anthony in the NFL, and been on the other side from him in Congress, but I am proud to call… https://t.co/5jGeGB5eyP— Colin Allred (@Colin Allred) 1631843101.0
Wow. Trump and Trumpism taking out a person who would’ve been the Ohio GOP’s most formidable long-term candidate… https://t.co/zVVldWJ1zl— David Pepper (@David Pepper) 1631841247.0
And this is why the Beltway Media can give up their dream that there's some post Trump "sane" GOP out there on the… https://t.co/BvsLzizK2N— Sam from Delacroix, LA (@Sam from Delacroix, LA) 1631882525.0
Democrats' razor-thin majority faces an uphill battle in 2022.