Saturday, January 29, 2022

Third Republican to vote to impeach Trump resigns

Rep. John Catko, a moderate Republican from downtown New York, announced his plans to step down on Friday, once again highlighting the political price Republicans have paid by breaking with former President Donald Trump.

Katko, who has faced a major challenge from Andrew McCarthy, a more pro-Trump Republican, is the third of 10 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot to announce plans to retire.

Katko, a four-term and former U.S. Attorney, was also likely to run for re-election in a less-Republican district chosen by the Democratic-dominated New York State Legislature. The legislature has yet to approve the new boundaries.

“After 32 years of public service, I have decided not to seek re-election to Congress so that I can enjoy my family and life more fully and modernly,” Katko said in a statement.

McCarthy, a self-proclaimed America First Republican and intelligence analyst at an Air Force base in Rome, New York, criticized Katko’s decision to step down rather than face him in the primary.

“It’s a shame [Katko] leave your people,” he tweeted on Friday. “I promise I will fight to the death and I won’t let you down.”

McCarthy, who operates on a nationalist platform that combines strict immigration restrictions with plans like the public health insurance option, has yet to enjoy the support of the biggest names in the Trump universe, let alone Trump himself.

His Friday tweet drew praise from former Trump adviser Steve Cortez, who called McCarthy’s proposal “fantasy.”

In addition to facing a challenge from Republican Andrew McCarthy, Rep. John Catko (RN.Y.) may also have been the victim of a tough re-election battle against a Democrat in November.

Chip Somodeville / Associated Press

Although Catco represented the Syracuse area won by both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and President Joe Biden in 2020, he has weathered vigorous attempts by the National Democrats to remove him in 2018 and 2020.

He managed to combine the standard conservative positions – unlike some other New York Republicans, he voted for Trump’s tax cut bill — with random votes that violated the orthodoxy of the Republican Party. He voted against Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and per Biden bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Likewise, although Katko remained with Trump during 2019 impeachment vote, he broke with the former president after last year’s attack on the Capitol.

“To allow the President of the United States to provoke this attack without consequences is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko. said in a statement after his vote. “For this reason, I cannot sit back and take no action.”

Later, Katko joined 34 other Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to convene a commission to investigate the January 6 attack.

It is unclear how much of the political backlash Katko experienced from his fellow Republicans for voting to impeach Trump was reflected in his decision to step down. In addition to the main task, the Onondaga County branch of the New York Conservative Party, which often supports Republican candidates, announced in April that it would not support Katko this time.

However, the symbolism is unmistakable. Of the small group of Republicans who opposed Trump after the Capitol riot, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois) have also already announced plans to step down.

Gonzalez, who announced his decision in November, faced the main task from Trump-backed Republican Max Miller.

And Kinzinger, who revealed his planning to retire faced a challenge from a pro-Trump Republican in October catalina run. The Democrats’ decision to put him in a district contest with fellow Illinois Republican Darin LaHood was probably just as important in his decision to resign.

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