ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — Former President Donald Trump has endorsed one of his old White House aides in the race against an incumbent Republican in Northeast Ohio.
Trump on Friday threw his support behind Max Miller, a former campaign and senior presidential advisor who is attempting to primary Rocky River U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in 2022. The latter was one of 10 GOP members of Congress who broke with the party and voted to impeach the then-president for incitement of insurrection in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
"Max Miller is a wonderful person who did a great job at the White House and will be a fantastic Congressman," Trump said in a statement that was shared on Miller's Twitter page. "He is a Marine Veteran, a son of Ohio, and a true PATRIOT. Current Rep. Anthony Gonzalez should not be representing the people of the 16th district because he does not represent their interest or their heart."
The race of Miller vs. Gonzalez represents the current battle in the Republican Party between the majority still standing by Trump and an increasingly vocal minority wishing to break with the former president, with the latter group citing his repeated lies about election fraud that contributed to last month's Capitol insurrection that left five people dead, including a police officer. Trump has continued to baselessly claim the 2020 election was "stolen" from him by current President Joe Biden, and several Ohio politicians such as 2022 U.S. Senate candidates Josh Mandel and Jane Timken have echoed those sentiments.
Trump, who was acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial, has threatened to challenge Republicans not seen as sufficiently loyal to him, and Gonzalez's vote in favor of impeachment led to his being censured by the Medina County GOP along with calls for his resignation from the Strongsville GOP. Local non-profit leader Jonah Schulz joined the primary race in Gonzalez's 16th congressional district on Feb. 3, and Miller followed suit on Friday.
"The people want steel-spined leaders that stand up to all who would take advantage of them – whether foreign adversaries, domestic profiteers, or anti-American ideologues," Miller's campaign said in announcing his candidacy. "Max is running for Congress to stand up for Northeast Ohioans and represent their interests in Washington. Unbending and straightforward, Max Miller will be their champion."
Miller grew up in Northeast Ohio and graduated from Cleveland State University. and currently serves on the board of trustees for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He says his campaign will focus on combating the ongoing opioid epidemic and helping middle class workers who were "abandoned...in favor of cheap, exploitative foreign labor."
Gonzalez, who grew up in Avon Lake as the son of a Cuban immigrant, is in his second term representing the 16th district. He was a two-way football star at St. Ignatius High School before continuing his career at Ohio State, where as a wide receiver he helped the Buckeyes win two Big Ten titles and earned first-team All-conference honors in 2006 as a junior. He also played in the NFL for five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.