Retiring Representative Paul Mitchell (R., Mich.) announced on Monday that he is “disaffiliating” from the Republican Party and becoming an Independent after being disheartened by a number of GOP leaders’ support for President Trump’s attempts to contest the election over unfounded claims of widespread election fraud.
Mitchell told CNN it “became clear to me that I could no longer be associated with the Republican Party [and] that leadership does not stand up and say the process, the election is over.”
In a letter to Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, Mitchell wrote that he voted for Trump in the 2020 election “despite some reservations about four more years under his leadership” and noted that he had voted in line with the president and the administration’s policies “more than 95 percent of the time.”
Today I am disaffiliating from the Republican Party.
See my letter below: pic.twitter.com/76IxC4FMvJ
— Rep. Paul Mitchell (@RepPaulMitchell) December 14, 2020
However, he said he believes Republicans “must stand up for democracy first, for our Constitution first, and not political considerations, not simply for raw political power.”
“This election simply confirms for me it’s about power first and that, frankly, is disgusting and demoralizing,” Mitchell said.
“Losing is brutal, it’s personal and it hurts. But if you’re not willing to accept that, you should not be in political leadership,” he added.
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 wrote.
He said that while steps should be taken by each state to audit election results, the president and his legal team have “failed to provide substantive evidence of fraud or administrative failure on a scale large enough to impact the outcome of the election.”
“Ronna, you know Michigan politics well. President Trump did not lose Michigan because of Wayne County, but rather he lost because of dwindling support in areas including Kent and Oakland County, both previous Republican strongholds,” Mitchell wrote.
He criticized a number of Republicans for going along with the “stop the steal” efforts and said “our leadership owes us better than what we are seeing right now and until I see that, I’m going to be an independent because it’s simply unacceptable.”
He said he is withdrawing his “engagement and association” with the GOP at the national and state level, becoming the second Republican member of Michigan’s current congressional delegation to leave the party, after Representative Justin Amash left the party in 2019 and became a Libertarian.
Mitchell admitted that the move is “admittedly symbolic” as he finishes out the final weeks of his term before retirement, though he said “we all know that symbols matter.”