Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, will not seek reelection in 2022.
Gonzalez, who was a wide receiver at Ohio State and a first-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts, told the New York Times on Thursday that his decision to end his congressional career after two terms was primarily due to the challenges of living in both Washington, D.C., and Cleveland, Ohio.
But he acknowledged he would have faced a “brutally hard primary” and called Trump “a cancer for the country.”
In February, Trump endorsed Max Miller, his former White House adviser, in his primary bid for Gonzalez’s seat — the former president’s first of many revenge endorsements of those challenging his Republican foes.
“Politically, the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” he said. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”
The Capitol riot was the turning point for Gonzalez, despite supporting many of Trump’s policies. In a statement after his impeachment vote, he cited Trump’s “lack of response” as rioters breached the Capitol as driving his decision.
That led to threats. Gonzalez, who has two young children, got messages from people online who threatened to come to his house, prompting the congressman to have a security consultant assess his home’s security. He recalled two police officers meeting him at the Cleveland airport to escort him after his impeachment vote.
“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?’” Gonzalez said.
Now, he plans to work against Trump.
“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Gonzalez said of Trump. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal.”