Virginia Representative Tom Garrett said on Monday that he would not run for re-election in November because he was struggling with alcoholism.
Garrett announced his decision in an emotional video on Monday, saying that until now he hasn’t been honest about his struggle, but that now he was telling the truth and added that anyone who has known him “for any period of time and has any integrity, knows two things: I am a good man and I am an alcoholic.”
The announcement came amid speculations about his political fate. Garret is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of the House’s most conservative Republicans, and the 44th Republican in the House to announce his retirement before the November election.
Only last week, he denied reports about his retirement, asserting that he would run again in November. If Garrett had decided to run again, he would have faced tough competition against Democratic nominee and former journalist Leslie Cockburn. She had significantly outraised Garrett in a district that President Donald Trump won in 2016 with 53% of the vote.
She did, however, express sympathy for what he was going through and wished him well.
“This must be a very difficult time for him, his family and staff,” Cockburn said on Twitter Monday. “It is important that he has recognized his alcohol addiction and I wish him well.”
The Republican Party of Virginia said on Twitter that the Fifth District Committee would immediately begin the process of choosing a replacement nominee.
Garrett has denied allegations that he was forced to retire and said his decision was motivated solely by his alcoholism. He has also condemned recent attacks on his family, saying they were “a series of half-truths and whole lies…driven more by Republicans than Democrats.”