WASHINGTON — Calling former President Donald J. Trump “a most cancers for the nation,” Consultant Anthony Gonzalez, Republican of Ohio, mentioned in an interview on Thursday that he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2022, ceding his seat after simply two phrases in Congress fairly than compete in opposition to a Trump-backed main opponent.
Mr. Gonzalez is the primary, however maybe not the final, of the 10 Home Republicans who voted to question Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to retire fairly than face ferocious primaries subsequent 12 months in a celebration nonetheless in thrall to the previous president.
The congressman, who has two younger kids, emphasised that he was leaving largely due to household issues and the difficulties that include residing between two cities. However he made clear that the pressure had solely grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the security of his spouse and youngsters.
Mr. Gonzalez mentioned that quality-of-life points had been paramount in his choice. He recounted an “eye-opening” second this 12 months: when he and his household had been greeted on the Cleveland airport by two uniformed cops, a part of additional safety precautions taken after the impeachment vote.
“That’s a type of moments the place you say, ‘Is that this actually what I would like for my household after they journey, to have my spouse and youngsters escorted by way of the airport?’” he mentioned.
Mr. Gonzalez, who turns 37 on Saturday, was the kind of Republican recruit the celebration as soon as prized. A Cuban American who starred as an Ohio State huge receiver, he was chosen within the first spherical of the N.F.L. draft after which earned an M.B.A. at Stanford after his soccer profession was minimize quick by accidents. He claimed his Northeast Ohio seat in his first bid for political workplace.
Mr. Gonzalez, a conservative, largely supported the previous president’s agenda. But he began breaking with Mr. Trump and Home Republican leaders after they sought to dam the certification of final 12 months’s presidential vote, and he was horrified by Jan. 6 and its implications.
Nonetheless, he insisted he might have prevailed in what he acknowledged would have been a “brutally onerous main” in opposition to Max Miller, a former Trump White Home aide who was endorsed by the previous president in February.
But as Mr. Gonzalez sat on a sofa in his Home workplace, most of his colleagues nonetheless at residence for the extended summer time recess, he acknowledged that he couldn’t bear the prospect of successful if it meant returning to a Trump-dominated Home Republican caucus.
“Politically the setting is so poisonous, particularly in our personal celebration proper now,” he mentioned. “You may combat your butt off and win this factor, however are you actually going to be completely happy? And the reply is, in all probability not.”
For the Ohioan, Jan. 6 was “a line-in-the-sand second” and Mr. Trump represents nothing lower than a menace to American democracy.
“I don’t consider he can ever be president once more,” Mr. Gonzalez mentioned. “Most of my political vitality will likely be spent engaged on that precise purpose.”
Mr. Gonzalez mentioned there had been some uncertainty after the assault on the Capitol over whether or not Republican leaders would proceed to bow to Mr. Trump.
However the ouster of Consultant Liz Cheney from her management put up; the continued obeisance of Consultant Kevin McCarthy, the Home minority chief; and the latest choice to invite Mr. Trump to be the keynote speaker at a significant Home Republican fund-raiser had been clarifying. Not less than in Washington, that is nonetheless Mr. Trump’s celebration.
“That is the route that we’re going to go in for the following two years and doubtlessly 4, and it’s going to make Trump the middle of fund-raising efforts and political outreach,” Mr. Gonzalez mentioned. “That’s not one thing I’m going to be a part of.”
His choice to go away fairly than combat, nonetheless, ensures that the congressional wing of the celebration will develop into solely extra totally Trumpified. And it’ll increase questions on whether or not different Trump critics within the Home will comply with him to the exits. On the high of that watch listing: Ms. Cheney and Consultant Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who’re each serving on the in any other case Democratic-dominated panel investigating the Capitol riot.
Requested how he might hope to cleanse the celebration of Mr. Trump if he himself was not keen to confront the previous president in a proxy combat subsequent 12 months in opposition to Mr. Miller, Mr. Gonzalez insisted that there have been nonetheless Republicans in workplace who would defend “the basics of democracy.”
With extra ardor, he argued that Mr. Trump has much less of a following amongst grass-roots Republicans than the celebration’s leaders consider, significantly in relation to whom the rank-and-file wish to lead their 2024 ticket.
“The place I see an enormous hole is, most individuals that I communicate to again residence agree with the insurance policies however in addition they need us to maneuver on from the particular person” and “the kind of resentment politics that has taken over the celebration,” Mr. Gonzalez mentioned.
Congressional maps are set to be redrawn this 12 months, and it’s unclear what Mr. Gonzalez’s district, the 16th, will appear like afterward. However he mentioned he would in all probability not take sides within the main to succeed him, which is now more likely to embody extra candidates.
He mentioned he would stay within the Home by way of the tip of his time period until one thing modified together with his household.
Mr. Gonzalez was emphatic that the threats weren’t why he was leaving — the commute was extra making an attempt, he mentioned — however in a matter-of-fact vogue, he recounted folks on-line saying issues like, “We’re coming to your own home.”
In accordance with the recommendation Home officers gave to all members, Mr. Gonzalez had a safety guide stroll by way of his residence to make sure it was effectively protected.
“It’s a mirrored image of the place our politics appeared prefer it was headed post-Jan. 6,” he mentioned.
Neither Mr. Trump nor any of his intermediaries have sought to push him out of the race, Mr. Gonzalez mentioned.
Requested about Mr. Trump’s inevitable crowing over his exit from the first, Mr. Gonzalez dismissed the previous president.
“I haven’t cared what he says or thinks since Jan. 6, outdoors when he continues to lie concerning the election, which I’ve an issue with,” he mentioned.
What clearly does hassle him, although, are the Republicans who proceed to abet Mr. Trump’s election falsehoods, acts of appeasement that he mentioned had been morally unsuitable and politically foolhardy after the celebration misplaced each chambers of Congress and the White Home beneath the previous president’s management.
“We’ve discovered the unsuitable lesson as a celebration,” Mr. Gonzalez mentioned, “however past that, and extra importantly, it’s horribly irresponsible and damaging for the nation.”