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Tom Garrett becomes the latest House Republican to drop out of the midterms

“I am a good man and I am an alcoholic.”

Congressman Tom Garrett attends the 2017 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention.
Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Following a tumultuous back-and-forth about his tenure in Congress, Republican lawmaker Tom Garrett announced Monday that he’s not running for reelection after all.

Garrett cited a personal struggle with alcoholism in a statement explaining his decision, which will make him the 48th House Republican who has opted not to pursue reelection to the lower chamber this fall.

“The recent attacks on my family are a series of half-truths and whole lies. ... But there’s one area where I haven’t been honest,” Garrett said in his Monday statement, which was first reported by the Washington Post. “The tragedy is that any person Republican, Democrat or independent who’s known me for any period of time and has any integrity knows two things: I am a good man and I am an alcoholic.“

His announcement comes in the wake of a report from Politico, in which aides accused the lawmaker of using staffers as “personal servants” and dispatching them to do rote chores like picking up groceries and cleaning up after his dog.

The freshman Congress member’s announcement also follows the abrupt departure of his chief of staff, Jimmy Keady, and marks a significant reversal of the position he expressed during a rambling speech last Thursday. “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 Fifth District of Virginia. Too darn much is at stake,” Garrett had said at the time.

As Politico reported, Republican leaders were worried about Garrett’s lethargic fundraising haul ahead of the upcoming midterms. Members of Virginia’s Republican Party will now be in charge of determining which candidate will run in Garrett’s stead.

This decision could prove to be a pivotal one for the party, as it seeks to maintain a majority in both chambers of Congress while grappling with a high number of Republican retirements this cycle.

Garrett’s departure comes as Democrats eye his central Virginia district as a possible pickup this fall. While the district leans conservative, and voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016, Democrats have been energized by a strong fundraising response. Garrett’s retirement could provide another opening for them to build on this momentum.