When historians look back on the Trump presidency, they will be able to make the conclusion that Trump brought the GOP to its knees. In the recent months, several Republican House members have announced their intent to retire. With that said, another GOP representative announced he would not seek reelection.
Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS) released a statement Wednesday explaining the reason behind his decision.
‘We have been contemplating for almost two years when it would be our time not to run again, and after spending time over Christmas and New Year’s with my family, we made the very difficult decision to say that 10 years will be long enough. I never intended for this to be a career, and it will soon be time for another conservative citizen legislator to represent us. I will work hard over the final 12 months of my term this year, but I will not seek re-election for a sixth term.’
Over the past months, three Republicans in the Senate announced they would not seek re-election in 2018 including Bob Corker (R-Tn.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
In the House, those Republican members who will not seek reelection also include Bill Shuster, Blake Farenthold, Bob Goodlatte, Charles Dent, Dave Reichert, David Trott, Frank LoBiondo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Jeb Hensarling, Joe Barton, John Duncan Jr., Lamar Smith, Lynn Jenkins, Sam Johnson, and Ted Poe.
When compared to Democrats, 25 Republicans are not seeking re-election while only 14 Democrats are not seeking re-election.
That doesn’t even include the Republicans who have already left.
Interestingly enough, Harper leads the efforts to reform the process in which sexual harassment complaints are handled in Congress as the Chairman of the House Administration Committee. His committee is responsible for the discovery that the Office of Compliance had paid out hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to settle workplace complaints. He told Mississippi Today:
‘Let me say this: One case of sexual harassment is one case too many. One dollar paid out for sexual harassment claims is one dollar too many.’
The problem, however, has been finding out just how much has been spent settling sexual harassment suits specifically.
As part of his efforts to reform the reporting process, Harper told Mississippi Today:
‘Some cases are resolved simply with an apology and a new path forward. Others go further, some may wind up in litigation … that a person who is victim does not wind up being a victim a second time because of a difficult process.’
Currently, the process to report sexual harassment almost seems as if it’s punishing the victim rather than the perpetrator. Counseling is required for the victim before a complaint can even be made and then mediation. Not to mention nondisclosure agreements are required, which then prevents any actual congressperson from being held accountable.
‘This is the responsibility of each member. If the member and chiefs of staff say “This is not going to be tolerated,” everyone is going to understand. But you have to make sure that the person who comes forward and has a claim is treated fairly and that their option can’t just be (to) quit and go somewhere else.’
Though we do not know what is in Harper’s heart, if he’s as dedicated to reforming sexual harassment policies in Congress, how can he sleep at night knowing the president of the United States has been accused by almost 20 women of sexual harassment and assault? Additionally, what if he leaves and his work is not done?
He’s just part of an exodus of Republicans who are bailing out rather than risk the embarrassment of a tumultuous 2018 campaign.
We could celebrate his departure; however, there is always the chance that a Bannon-endorsed candidate could run and win. It is Mississippi after all. The only thing that prevented Roy Moore from being elected in Alabama was the allegations of assaulting girls when they were minors. He was an extremely flawed candidate that refused to concede, and the Republican party wimped out on forcing the issue. Though a victory, it wasn’t a true victory, and Democrats can’t rely on every Republican having a deeply buried skeleton in their closet to win especially when Democrats are just as likely to have their own skeletons.
Featured image by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images.