Anthony Gonzales - Photo courtesy of NASA HQ

Sometimes you just have to call it quits. For Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, the shadow of the 45th President looms far and wide across the Republican ranks.

Gonzalez and the former president haven’t had the best relationship. Gonzalez was one of the 10 House Republicans that voted to impeach Donald Trump during his second impeachment. Trump and his supporters responded by marking the congressman and going to his home to publicly smear and campaign against him.

It wasn’t a coincidence that Trump’s first stop on his post-presidency schedule of rallies was in Wellington, Ohio, located in Lorain County. Congressman Gonzalez’s 16th District covers part of northeast Ohio, and Trump used the opportunity to announce his support for a former White House aide, Max Miller, who will most likely be filling Gonzalez’s shoes in the House, bearing a redistricting change.

While in Wellington, Trump put Gonzalez and the other Republicans In Name Only — RINOs —  on blast, calling the Ohio congressman in particular “a sellout and fake Republican.” Miller received the President’s full endorsement and support.

"There is no greater fighter that this country has ever had, and I have never had a greater role model than President Donald J. Trump,” Miller said, according to CNN.

“RINO” is used by Trump in targeting dissident members of his own party and signals that what it means to be a Republican is now linked to your support of the former President.

The departure of Republicans like Gonzalez, and their replacements like Miller, signal the lasting effect Trumpism still has in the Republican Party, and Ohio in particular. Ohio in the last election voted overwhelmingly for the former president — and Trump and his party seem pretty solid in place in both federal and state offices.

So what does this mean for Ohio Republicans? With Senator Rob Portman also stepping down after the 2022 election, we might see Ohio turn into a hotbed for the emergence of pro-trump sentiment. Republicans that don’t meet the criteria of being loyal enough to Trump might find themselves having their seats challenged by zealous allies of the former president. Those that don’t conform will be labelled RINOs marked and outcasted by the party.

Trump has always commanded loyalty from allies that support his cause. This has its strengths when dealing with the world of business and the private sector. However, when you bring that same sentiment over to public office, you rapidly increase the levels of partisanship that already is drowning Washington.

Donald Trump has taken over the reins of the GOP for the last 5 years, and after his failed re-election, he refused to hand them over. 

Many supporters of Trump are the kind of people he prefers: people that are loyal to him and only him. The word Republican is a synonym for support for Trump. If you are against Trump you are against the Republican Party and if you’re against the party, you’re against Trump. This mindset might have compelled more moderates, like Portman and Gonzalez, to retire rather than continue their membership in a party that neither of them believe in anymore. Their replacements will have great company in Congress with the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan and Ted Cruz.

So what can we look forward to in the midterm elections next year? Well for Republican voters, this election has the possibility to solidify the Trump grasp on the Republican party in Ohio and other states. Republicans will have to choose between risking their own seats and going against the president, or cuddle up to the swamp he has created around himself.

However, with any election in our democratic process, the power ultimately lies in the hands of the people. Go out, make your voices heard and exercise your right to vote in November.

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