Gonzalez, a Rocky River Republican first elected to Ohio’s 16th Congressional District in 2018, attributed his decision to the “current state of our politics” and a toxic environment within his own party. In an interview with the New York Times, Gonzalez indicated that he didn’t want to be part of a GOP that continues to put Trump front and center.
Gonzalez was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a move that almost instantly made him a target to the former president and his allies. The Ohio Republican Party voted in May to censure Gonzalez and called on him to resign.
Gonzalez, who turns 37 Saturday, was a wide receiver at Ohio State University and first-round NFL draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts. He won his 2018 primary against a more Trump-aligned candidate.
The congressman, who has two young children, emphasized that he was leaving in large part because of family considerations and the difficulties that come with living between two cities. But he made clear that the strain had only grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the safety of his wife and children.
Mr. Gonzalez said that quality-of-life issues had been paramount in his decision. He recounted an “eye-opening” moment this year: when he and his family were greeted at the Cleveland airport by two uniformed police officers, part of extra security precautions taken after the 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?’” he said.
Gonzalez said his political energy will be spent ensuring that Trump is not president again.