Dozens of GOP lawmakers staying away from Trump's convention

Dozens of GOP lawmakers staying away from Trump's convention
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The overwhelming majority of House Republicans in competitive races this fall won’t be at the Republican National Convention to watch Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll MORE accept the party’s nomination for president. 

Many have concluded that keeping their distance — figuratively and physically — from Trump is in their best interest, particularly in racially diverse districts where the businessman is unpopular.


Despite the reduced attendance, most of the House GOP leadership team is slated to be in Cleveland to make a show of unity behind the nominee.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) are both expected to deliver speeches during the GOP convention. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (N.C.) and Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), the chairman of House Republicans’ campaign arm, plan to be in Cleveland as well.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's Overnight Energy: Wheeler vows to keep funds for Great Lakes cleanup | Inslee presses Trump on climate in House testimony | Dems seek more funds for Interior watchdog Inslee presses Trump on climate change in House testimony MORE (Wash.) will not attend the convention, however. McMorris Rodgers endorsed Trump after he became the presumptive nominee but expressed concerns about his inflammatory comments regarding women and people with disabilities. 

Most of the more than two dozen Republican incumbents in competitive reelection races offered nearly identical answers when asked if they would go to the convention.

“Rep. Hurd will spend next week in the district meeting with constituents,” said Rep. Will Hurd’s (Texas) spokeswoman.

“Rep. Knight has several important commitments in the district that week and will not be attending,” Rep. Steve Knight’s (Calif.) office said in an email.

“He will be working hard in his own Congressional District, touring businesses and meeting with voters throughout the Central Valley,” Rep. David Valadao’s (Calif.) spokeswoman said.

Rep. David Jolly (Fla.) also said he plans to work in his district, which is currently rated as leaning Democratic, instead of going to the convention. He told The Hill that he offered his convention credentials to local party officials, but so far there haven’t been any takers.

“Apparently it’s a buyer’s market right now, if you will,” Jolly said. “At this point, mine will go unused.”

Jolly remains undecided on Trump and isn’t sure if he’ll endorse him at any point. He took to the House floor late last year to call on Trump to drop out of the Republican primary race for proposing to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

“I don’t know if I’ll get there,” Jolly said with a sigh. “I really don’t.”

Other Republican lawmakers who aren’t necessarily in tough reelection races but have trouble stomaching Trump have other plans this week as well.

Rep. Charlie Dent (Pa.), a centrist who originally endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said he only planned to go if the convention was contested. But with Trump seemingly a done deal, he says Republicans are better off concentrating on their individual races. 

“We have two candidates who have wildly high unfavorability image ratings, and so it’s better that we focus on our own races,” Dent said.

Libertarian Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashBipartisan group asks DHS, ICE to halt deportations of Iraqi nationals Overnight Defense: House votes to end US support for Yemen war | Vote expected to force Trump's second veto of presidency | More Russian troops may head to Venezuela | First 'Space Force' hearing set for next week House ignores Trump veto threat, approves bill ending US support for Yemen war MORE (Mich.) said he’s not going to the convention, either, and plans on finding another candidate to support instead of Trump in November.

In addition to Ryan and McCarthy, at least five other prominent House Republicans are expected to speak at the convention: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (Texas) and Reps. Chris Collins (N.Y.), Ryan Zinke (Mont.), Sean DuffySean Patrick DuffySenate bill seeks to bring freedom back to banking Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns CNN's Cuomo: 'There's 100 percent behavior by people' around Trump 'that qualifies as collusion' MORE (Wis.) and Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnConservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Lawmakers weigh challenges in fighting robocalls Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal MORE (Tenn.).

A handful of House Republicans who are top targets of Democrats this year will be in Cleveland.

New York Republican Reps. Lee Zeldin and Tom Reed are among the few incumbent lawmakers representing swing districts to embrace Trump, and both plan to attend. Longtime GOP Rep. John Mica (Fla.), who’s considered more vulnerable this year, also expects to be at the convention. 

Yet the list of targeted GOP incumbent no-shows is far longer: In addition to Hurd, Knight, Valadao and Jolly, it extends to Reps. Mia Love (Utah), Bruce Poliquin (Maine), David Young (Iowa), Bob Dold (Ill.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Erik Paulsen (Minn.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), Tim Walberg (Mich.), John Katko (N.Y.), Cresent Hardy (Nev.), Barbara Comstock (Va.) and Scott Tipton (Colo.). 

Offices for other members in tough races, including Reps. Rod Blum (Iowa) and Mike Coffman (Colo.), wouldn’t say if they were going to the convention.

Some lawmakers will be emphasizing physical distance from the convention this week. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzLawmakers contemplate a tough political sell: Raising their pay Top Utah paper knocks Chaffetz as he mulls run for governor: ‘His political career should be over’ Boehner working on memoir: report MORE (Utah) will be leading a congressional delegation abroad as other Republicans gather in Cleveland. Chaffetz’s office declined to specify where the delegation is headed, citing security concerns.

Most Republicans opting against the convention cited other work commitments during the week. But at least one frequent Trump critic offered a perhaps more flimsy excuse: Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge Trump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Flake opens up about threats against him and his family MORE (Ariz.) said he had to mow his lawn.

“He must have a really big lawn,” Zeldin joked.