Garrett reverses, will not seek reelection amid battle with alcoholism

Garrett reverses, will not seek reelection amid battle with alcoholism
© Greg Nash

Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Va.) announced Monday, four days after an unusual press conference in which he said he is "absolutely, positively running for reelection," that he will be stepping down in January as he seeks to focus on recovering from alcoholism.

“Any person — Republican, Democrat or independent — who has known me for any period of time and has any integrity knows two things: I am a good man, and I’m an alcoholic,” Garrett said, fighting back tears in a video statement first reported by The Washington Post. “This is the hardest statement that I have ever publicly made by far. It’s also the truth.”

Garrett, 46, said people close to him have expressed concern about his drinking since he was in his early 20s.

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Garrett is the 44th House Republican who will either retire or not seek reelection this year, according to CNN’s retirement tracker.

His announcement walks back his previous statement on Thursday when he said he would continue his reelection bid in a bizarre and rambling press conference. 

"Yesterday, in frustration, I said, 'I don't know if I can do this anymore' — in the last 24 hours I've had an opportunity to think and pray a lot,” Garrett said Thursday. “And guess what? This country was founded by people who took great risks to do what they thought was right and the sacrifices that my wife and I make are not small, but they pale in comparison to those who play God in their lives.”

He added, ”And with that, I will tell you that there is no way in heck that I'm not going to be back here in 2019 as a member of the Congress representing the 5th District of Virginia because too darn much is at stake."

The change of heart also follows a bombshell report from Politico last week where ex-aides accused the congressman and his wife of treating them like servants, including having them do menial tasks such as picking up groceries and clothes and cleaning up after the family dog.

In the video statement released Monday, the congressman declined to answer any questions regarding the allegations.

“The recent attacks on my family and myself were a series of half truths and full lies,” Garrett said.

Democrat Leslie Cockburn, a writer and journalist, has been reportedly outraising Garrett in the campaign to represent Virginia's 5th District.

The district's GOP committee will have to select a new nominee to replace Garrett, who outperformed President TrumpDonald John TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey MORE by approximately 5 points in 2016.