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May 29, 2018

Congressman Tom Garrett abandons re-election bid

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Tom Garrett two years ago in Warrenton campaign forum with Jane Dittmar (D), whom he easily defeated in November 2016.
I am not dying. I am starting anew. With work and dedication, great things can be done. This isn’t an ending for me or my values of service to my fellow man. It’s just a new beginning.
— Congressman Tom Garrett
Freshman Congressman Thomas A. Garrett Jr. (R-Va./5th), who represents most of Fauquier, announced Monday that he will quit his re-election campaign and resign at year’s end.

“The tragedy is that any person — Republican, Democratic 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’m an alcoholic,” Rep. Garrett said in a video released Monday afternoon. “This is the hardest statement that I have ever publicly made, by far. It is also the truth.”

News reports last week suggested he would step down. But, Rep. Garrett in a news conference last Thursday insisted he would run again.

A Politico story on Friday, however, reported that four unidentified former staff members accused the congressman and his wife of ordering staffers to carry groceries, walk their dog and perform other personal tasks. House ethics rules prohibit that.

Rep. Garrett, 46, also trailed Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn, a journalist and Rappahannock County resident, in campaign fundraising for the Nov. 6 election.

In November 2016, he easily defeated Jane Dittmar (D), 58 to 42 percent, to succeed Robert Hurt (R), representing the Fifth District, which stretches from Fauquier to the North Carolina border. In Fauquier, Rep. Garrett received 64 percent of the vote.

Rep. Garrett previously served as the commonwealth’s attorney in Louisa County and as a state senator. He served six years as a U.S. Army artillery officer.

He has refused to answer questions about the potential misuse of his congressional staff and other issues related to his re-election.

“The recent attacks on my family and myself were a series of half truths and whole lies,” Rep. Garrett said in the video, shot Monday outside the State Capitol.

“Not for fear of losing or for lack of love for our great nation, today I am announcing that I will not seek reelection,” he said. “Sometimes winning means knowing where your priorities should be. My devotion to the ideals and beliefs in America has not wavered, but my commitment to be the best husband, father and friend means addressing the only truth I’ve been heretofore unwilling to tell. God has blessed America and he’s blessed me. I am not dying. I am starting anew. With work and dedication, great things can be done. This isn’t an ending for me or my values of service to my fellow man. It’s just a new beginning.”

The 5th Congressional District Republican Committee, which has about 30 members, will select a new nominee for the November election.

The district, which Republicans have dominated, includes 16 of Fauquier’s 20 voting precincts.

Virginia House of Delegates member Michael Webert (R-18th/Marshall) Tweeted on Monday night that he will considered seeking the nomination.

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Silii · June 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm
So here's what Freedom Caucus Garrett delivered his constituents: a tax reform bill that raises many people's taxes while giving a huge tax break to corporations and the wealthy. How to make up for the lost revenue? Borrow from China and increase the national debt by a minimum of $3 trillion. Next. Be incapable of repealing and replacing the ACA. Instead, go along with Trump and make deadly blows to it that result in total confusion for insurance companies, resulting in higher premiums, along with higher premiums being necessary due to dropping the individual mandate. Result: a crashing medical insurance system. Next: attacking women's clinics, defunding them, leaving women without a place to go to get pap smears, breast exams, birth control, pregnancy check ups, etc. What does Garrett know about women's reproductive health care needs that women don't know? Next. By his own admission, he's a drunk. That's probably why he has one of the highest missed vote rates. And, he and his wife apparently violated House ethics rules by forcing staff to take care of private errands including cleaning up the dog poop. I'm taking my chance with Leslie Cockburn this time around. I've had it with lying drunks supposedly "representing" me.
Jim Griffin · May 29, 2018 at 10:45 pm
Ted Cruz got it right when he said Democrats would crawl on broken glass to cast a ballot in the upcoming midterm elections. The numbers will be epic, the effects akin to the last Virginia statehouse elections referenced in these comments.

The Guzman-Lingamfelter election was largely about Trump, who will loom large in the next election, too. Yes, many decent people will be willing to stand in long lines for hours -- including crawl through broken glass -- to deliver a message to DC's dysfunctional team. Count on it.

If you favor conservatives, you will want someone who can get out the vote in large numbers, who can deliver passion for a party that has now lost so many statewide (read: un-Gerry-mandered) elections that Virginia is now widely considered a blue state. You have this on your side: Virginia's Fifth District history of supporting rabid right-wing extremists whose numbers included George Wallace.

Consider that Charlottesville is in the Fifth District with Fauquier and it is a hotbed of student activism, especially so after the rallies. That the Fifth is even in play is a sign of the times, times that are apparently a changin'.
Wiley1 · May 29, 2018 at 6:54 pm
Yes, the needs of Danville are fairly dissimilar from the needs of New Baltimore. But, both places can benefit by electing a strong conservative. Otherwise, we could be have another Guzman thrust upon us. That would cause me to consider moving to Texas.
The 5th district is not going to be un-gerrymandered before Nov so we need to work with the tools we've been given. Can we get Robert Hurt back?
martinkus · May 29, 2018 at 6:33 pm
I absolutely concur with Jim Griffin's comments! One never knows what may happen. Perhaps Ms. Cockburn can stage a major upset?
Jim Griffin · May 29, 2018 at 3:52 pm
The Fifth Congressional District of Virginia is hopelessly Gerry-mandered to Republican advantage, larger than New Jersey and Vermont combined. When Robert Hurt was our congressman, the mayor of Philadelphia lived closer to Warrenton than Hurt did.

It is an embarrassment. We are pawns balancing a chessboard. It was better when Wolf was our representative, when we were in the tenth, our congressional district placement more apt to our circumstance, which ought not stretch to the North Carolina border.
Wiley1 · May 29, 2018 at 2:40 pm
The timing of Mr. Garrett's announcement has left our district in an awkward and precarious position. The election only 5 months away. The people of Fauquier deserve strong competent representation in Congress. We can't afford another disaster like what happened with Mr. Lingamfelter. Who will step up and fight to keep an R in that seat?
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