By Dan Merica and Simone Pathe, CNN
“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,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
Gonzalez had previously argued that Trump’s rhetoric at the “Stop the Steal” rally ahead of the insurrection on January 6 and the fact that the former President did little to stop those actions swayed him to back the impeachment charges. That decision unearthed profound anger in his northeast Ohio district, kicking off a localized fight over the future of the Republican Party that pit the two-term congressman against irate constituents eager to expel any member of the party who crossed the former President.
Trump, for his part, campaigned against the lawmaker in June, rallying for primary opponent Max Miller, a former Trump aide, in his first return to the campaign trail after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Trump said in a statement Friday that Gonzalez “decided to quit after enduring a tremendous loss of popularity” following the impeachment vote.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, another one of the 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment, said the former President’s statement about Gonzalez “reminds us all, once again, that Trump is at war with the Constitution.”
The Ohio Republican Party Central Committee had voted in May to censure Gonzalez and call for his resignation.
A former NFL player first elected to the House in 2018, Gonzalez was one of only 35 House Republicans who voted later that month to establish an independent commission to investigate the insurrection, which Senate Republicans later blocked.
“Since entering politics, I have always said that I will do this job as long as the voters will have me and it still works for my family,” Gonzalez said in his Thursday statement.
“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. You have given me and my family tremendous strength and courage in the face of much adversity these past few months and years,” he added, noting that he’s hopeful “the chaotic political environment that currently infects our country will only be temporary.”
Republicans who pushed for his ouster from the 16th District were elated following the announcement.
Shannon Burns, the head of Strongsville Republicans, a group in the district, had called for Gonzalez’s ouster since he voted to impeach Trump, including by spearheading an effort to have the Ohio GOP central committee call for his resignation.
“The members of Strongsville GOP were steadfast in their opposition to Anthony Gonzalez after he voted to impeach our sitting President with no proof and no due process,” Burns said in a statement. “In the end, Congressman Gonzalez realized that without the support of the base of the party represented by Strongsville GOP and in the face of the Trump endorsement of Max Miller, he had no pathway to victory in the Republican Primary.”
This story has been updated with additional details Thursday.
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.