Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg/Getty Rep. Anthony Gonzales was a rising star in the Republican firmament until a vengeful Trump helped snuff out the reelection campaign of the intelligent, charismatic two-term Ohioan as a warning to others of what awaits infidels in his party .
In 2018, Gonzales was the party’s prize recruit for an Ohio seat, a Cuban-American football star out of Ohio State, a first-round draft pick of the Colts with an MBA from Stanford. All was fine— Trump loves athletes and took Gonzales on Air Force One—until Gonzales voted to impeach the president over Jan. 6. That day, Gonzales was present during a phone call in which the president could have called off his mob but didn’t.
Gonzales says that although he could have beaten the crony Trump chose to challenge him, he decided it wouldn’t be worth the effort it would take only to return to a caucus in thrall to a flawed man he called a “cancer” on the party and who forced him to get security to protect his family. His retirement comes two days before his 37th birthday.
Gonzales is a sterling example of who the Republican Party is sacrificing on the altar of The Donald. Trump’s only animating force for interfering in the 2022 primaries is punishing apostates—any party member who suggests that he didn’t leave the White House for the warm waters of Mar a Lago voluntarily, or upheld the results of the election he lost or, worst of all, voted for impeachment. Already, Trump has supported challengers to three secretaries of state who didn’t declare the election stolen, including Brad Raffensperger who refused to “find” the 11,570 votes needed to steal Georgia from Biden.
Trump is also supporting a challenge to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and endorsing Mo Brooks, who’s running to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby. Brooks stood on the Mall on Jan. 6 in a camouflage hat crying out that “Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” So far Trump has endorsed close to 40 candidates in 23 states who have little in common save for their abject fealty to him.