“It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation,” said the now-former Republican.
DRYDEN, Mich.—For the second time this Congressional term, a Republican in the House of Representatives has left the Grand Old Party, citing President Donald Trump as the cause. Neither will be returning for the next Congressional session.
Retiring Michigan congressman, Paul Mitchell (I-Dryden), said Monday he is leaving the Republican Party and becoming an independent to protest efforts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.
Mitchell is nearing the end of his second and final term. He wrote a letter to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the same day electors formalized Biden’s win.
“It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote,” he said.
Mitchell said he voted for Trump despite some reservations about four more years of his leadership. He criticized GOP leaders for tolerating “unfounded conspiracy theories” without defending a secure electoral process. He stands in contrast to the 106 House Republicans who signed onto a Texas lawsuit—rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court—that sought to invalidate the results in Michigan and three other states.
“I believe that raw political considerations, not constitutional or voting integrity concerns, motivate many in party leadership to support the ‘stop the steal’ efforts, which is extremely disappointing to me,” Mitchell wrote. “As elected members of Congress, we take an oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States,’ not to preserve and protect the political interests of any individual, be it the president or anyone else, to the detriment of our cherished nation.”
Mitchell follows the footsteps of fellow retiring Michigan conservative, Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade) who left the party in 2019 before announcing his retirement in 2020.
On Independence Day, after months of tension with his party over his belief that Trump needed to be removed from office over his dealings with the Russian government during his first campaign, Amash wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post announcing his own independence from the Republican Party. He called the current state of American politics a “partisan death spiral”, calling out Trump without ever explicitly naming him.
“Americans have allowed government officials, under assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of powers, federalism and the rule of law,” he wrote. “The result has been the consolidation of political power and the near disintegration of representative democracy. These are consequences of a mind-set among the political class that loyalty to party is more important than serving the American people or protecting our governing institutions. The parties value winning for its own sake, and at whatever cost.”
While neither Amash nor Mitchell are returning to Congress in 2021, the fact that during the course of the last Congressional session Michigan’s Republican delegation to congress went from seven members to five. This shows a deep, serious divide among Michigan Republicans over the direction of the party, and the soul-searching that parties tend to do following a presidential loss will determine if Michigan’s resignations will alter the course the Grand Old Party finds itself on in a post-Trump political world.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.