On Saturday, Donald Trump will begin his revenge tour against Republicans that he defied in the aftermath of the 2020 election and January 6 rebellion. He hopes to persuade his supporters to fire Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez.
Trump’s ability to expel the Republicans who have crossed him will be a major test of his post-presidential power. It will assess whether Trump still holds the same influence with base Republican voters as he did during his four years in office. Trump’s visit to Northeast Ohio is intended to remind voters of Gonzalez’s vote earlier in the year to impeach the Republican President, and to boost Max Miller (an ex-aide to Trump) who will challenge the congressman in next year’s Republican primary.
Trump cheered while Republicans in Ohio’s congressional district protested Gonzalez’s vote for impeachment. Gonzalez was a two-term congressman, who had mostly voted Republican. While some voters accused him of doing “the unthinkable,” others lamented that they would have to wait until 2022 before they could remove him.
Gonzalez has been able to get through the day with his supporters, even his most passionate. The furor surrounding his vote has subsided, and voters now go about their lives, forgetting about the scandals of early 2021.
Jim Renacci, an Ohio Republican and longtime opponent to the incumbent governor, stated that “if the election were (months ago), then I believe Gonzalez would lose.” Mike DeWine. He is likely still in danger if the election were today. He would have a difficult race today, but he still has a year to prove his worth and voters forget.
Trump’s weekend goal is to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
“President Trump will aggressively lobby against any RINOS that do not represent their voters’ will,” Liz Harrington, a spokesperson for the former president, stated. She was referring to “Republicans In Name Only.”
Gonzalez is still steadfast
Gonzalez has remained firm throughout the political turmoil, arguing that Trump’s rhetoric before the January 6 insurrection as well as the fact that Trump did not stop these actions was what influenced him to support the impeachment accusations. He has now doubled down. Much to the dismay of local Republicans, Gonzalez voted to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection.
Gonzalez’s congressional campaign stated that Gonzalez was “focusing his attention on issues that matter for the people of Northeast Ohio”, such as “strengthening the economy, fighting back against China Communist Party and its unfair trading practices, serving our veterans, and providing the highest quality constituent services.”
The campaign stated that Max Miller was not fit to represent our community at Congress.
The predicament in which the congressman finds himself, after he made a name for himself as a standout wide receiver at Ohio State University, and then in the NFL with Indianapolis Colts highlights wider divisions within the Republican Party. It pits the Trump supporter against those who are loyal to the Republican leader.
Orrville Mayor Dave Handwerk (Ohio), has stood by his congressman despite the harsh criticism. He argued that the “sad” state of affairs within the Republican Party is evident in the blowback his representative has received.
Handwerk, a 68-year-old mayor who has been a Republican all his life, said, “If the Republican Party requires you to be a Trump Supporter, then I don’t know what it means for me anymore.” “It just means that I don’t know what the Republican Party is doing anymore,” said Handwerk.
Gonzalez also responded to the backlash by raising questions about his party and warning members about Trump’s loyalty.
“People feel different about Donald Trump, which is the reality within our party. He stated in a May interview with the City Club of Cleveland that if we want to win future elections, we must retake both the House and the Senate. “And if you are going to excommunicate those who feel differently…I believe it is a losing strategy.
Gonzalez, a Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, and Gonzalez have started a joint fundraising committee. This is yet another sign that Gonzalez stands by his vote. Cheney was another Trump target, having lost her leadership position in the House due to her outspokenness about Trump’s election lies. Gonzalez’s aide stated that the committee was established because “some donors wanted checks to both of them”. The committee makes it much easier.
However, Gonzalez’s warnings seem to have fallen on deaf ears of many Republican activists in his district who are determined to remove Gonzalez. Miller announced his candidacy in February specifically because Gonzalez “betrayed his voters” when he voted to impeach Trump.
“I will not back down. Miller also tweeted that Miller would never betray them.
Trump quickly supported his former aide.
Although Miller is directly connected to Trump, still has issues he will need to address during his campaign. Some Republicans, including Gonzalez, have noted that Miller was convicted of multiple crimes between 2007-2010.
“We have no room for error. So people’s backgrounds and their character are important to voters,” stated Jonah Schulz a Republican who also challenged Gonzalez in the primary. Miller said, “We see this group of people in America…of individuals who play by different rules and aren’t accountable like us.”
Miller is faced with a financial disadvantage when he enters the primary: a Gonzalez war chest twice as big as his $438.554 bank account.
Miller could make it seem easy to close the gap. Trump indicated a willingness for Miller to raise funds when he addressed a Miller fundraiser in March.
Both strategies are distinct: While Miller is running toward Trump, Gonzalez has painted a disturbing portrait of a Republican Party that remains loyal to its former leader.
“As a party, we must be open about where we stand. We are out of control with the federal government. We don’t control the White House, the House, and the Senate. When we are discussing the state of our party we often talk about how we won an election. In an interview with The City Club of Cleveland, Gonzales stated that all of them are lost if you look at the federal government. “My concern is that we are trying to excommunicate ourselves, voters. When you’re out of power, it is important to add voters, not subtract them.
Still, anger simmers
Even though the anger directed at Gonzalez has decreased, it continues to simmer alongside activists who helped him get elected.
Doug Deeken, chair of the Wayne County Republican Party, stated that “the number of people calling the party and saying that this is terrible, terrible, horrendous, we have to get rid of him has definitely decreased.” “But I don’t think anyone has changed their minds about his vote.”
Gonzalez’s problem is that, just when average Ohioans forget about their vote, something happens to remind them. Recently, this reminder was when the Ohio Republican Party’s Central Committee censured Gonzalez for voting. They called on Gonzalez, who they had endorsed only a few months prior, to resign.
Gonzalez’s “bet” is to let it all go and hope people forget. His belief, which he had believed, was that people would turn against Trump and that Trump would be there, said Shannon Burns, a Republican activist, and leader of the Strongsville GOP. Burns used to support Gonzalez. “But I believe it is incumbent upon all of us that we inform the Republican voters just who this person claimed he was and what he really is.”
Burns, who called for the Ohio party not to only censure Gonzalez, but also to call for his resignation, said: Trump’s presence “will draw all the attention necessary for those people who don’t know that Anthony Gonzales was elected to impeach.” They will find out after Saturday.”
Gonzalez’s political activity in Ohio in 2022 is another issue. There’s a competitive Senate race, an uncertain Republican primary for governor, and many closely watched House races. Nearly all Republicans involved in these races will likely use Gonzalez and Trump’s antipathy to him as a way of winning Trump’s support.
The Republican primary for Ohio’s open Senate spot is the clearest race. Candidates hope to be as close to Trump as possible.
Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel; Jane Timken, former chair of Ohio Republican Party; former Senate candidate Mike Gibbons are all expected to attend Trump’s rally. Gibbons will host a tailgate before the event. Timken has an ahead radio ad in which she states that “no one is more dedicated to advancing his America First Agenda than I.”
All of the Republican Senate hopefuls have repeatedly attacked Gonzalez. Mandel called him “a traitor”, and Timken initially was less hostile to him. However, she later stated that the impeachment Gonzalez supported was a “sham.”
Redistricting could be the greatest problem for Gonzalez.
Due to slow population growth, Ohio will lose a congressional seat. New guidelines will make the process more bipartisan. However, Republicans will retain more control of the process because they have dominated state politics over the years and control all levels of state government.
Republicans in Northeast Ohio believe that it is possible to eliminate Gonzalez’s district, which runs from Cleveland suburbs along the shores of Lake Erie and down the Cuyahoga valley into suburban communities such as Strongsville and Medina, and further into rural areas southwest Akron like Wooster or Wayne County.
Renacci, who was previously a Gonzalez representative, stated that “they are going to need to eliminate one district.”
This possibility is also suggested by the venue for Trump’s event. Former President Trump will gather in Wellington, Ohio. This is a Lorain County town that is currently not in Gonzalez’s district. Some Ohio Republicans think the new district might include more rural areas southwest of Cleveland.
Deeken stated, “The big question here is how the district will look because we don’t know for certain that there won’t be sixteen Ohio districts.” “Until we know, it’s just spitting in our faces here,” Deeken said.