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 TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate 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.

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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 RyanWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer 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 RodgersLatina lawmakers discuss efforts to increase representation CDC backtracks with new mask guidance CDC: Vaccinated people should now wear masks in high transmission areas 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 AmashAmash warns of turning lawmakers like Cheney into 'heroes' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' 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 DuffyWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Ron Johnson: 'I may not be the best candidate' for 2022 midterms Milwaukee alderwoman launches Senate bid MORE (Wis.) and Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnMcCarthy jokes it'll be hard not to 'hit' Pelosi with gavel if he is Speaker Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on 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 ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller 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 FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (Ariz.) said he had to mow his lawn.

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