Republican Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who was a sharp critic of former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, announced his retirement Thursday night.
Gonzalez cited a “toxic” political environment, especially within his own party, as well as the potential threat of violence as contributing factors for his decision, in an interview with The New York Times. He would have faced a primary challenge from Max Miller, a former White House staffer who was endorsed by Trump.
He also noted a desire to spend more time with his family and a concern for the toll his elected position has taken on them.
Gonzalez described retirement as “the best path” for his wife and children in a statement posted on Twitter.
See my full statement below regarding my decision not to seek re-election. pic.twitter.com/vsggxjD1FI
— Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (@RepAGonzalez) September 17, 2021
“While my desire to build a better 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.
Gonzalez told The Times that he was not retiring due to threats, but said that they were taxing, citing people telling him, “we’re coming to your house.” (RELATED: Trump Critics In Congress Have Spent Tens Of Thousands On Private Security Since The Capitol Riot)
He also noted a uniformed escort by armed police officers for his children through the Cleveland airport.
“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?'” he asked.
Gonzalez raised more than $591,000 during the second Federal Election Commission fundraising quarter, and has repeatedly said that he believes he would have defeated Miller in the primary.
However, he asked himself, “are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, ‘probably not.'”
A former wide receiver at Ohio State and for the Indianapolis Colts, Gonzalez was first elected to Congress in 2018. He voted with Trump 86% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. However, Gonzalez believes that Trump “can [not] ever be president again.”
Gonzalez is the first Republican member of the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Trump to announce his retirement. Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr had already announced their retirement plans when they voted to convict the former president in the Senate.
Gonzalez is the third Republican member of the House to announce his permanent retirement from elected office following the 2022 election, although six more have announced that they will seek other offices rather than reelection, according to Ballotpedia.