Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones announced that he is stepping down from office, citing attacks and harassment from his party following his endorsement of President Donald Trump for re-election.
Jones shocked the Georgia political establishment when he became the first state-elected Democrat to endorse Trump earlier this month. While the move drew quick recognition and applause from the White House, Democratic leaders closer to home immediately disavowed him, and pledged to help unseat him from office.
Jones now says the blowback from his party is too much, and he is stepping down from his post as the representative for Georgia’s 91st House District.
“I’m sick and tired of me and my family being attacked and harassed by the Democrat Party for putting my country before my party,” Jones said in a statement released Wednesday, and first obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I take pride in being an independent thinker,” Jones continued in his resignation announcement. “I intend to help the Democrat Party get rid of its bigotry against Black people that are independent and conservative.”
Jones first endorsed Trump on April 14, citing the president’s handling of the economy, support for historically black colleges, and his criminal justice reform initiatives. All of these issues, he said, drew him toward Trump’s campaign.
Jones represents the 91st House District in the Georgia General Assembly — a majority-minority district in the suburbs south of Atlanta that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Before entering the Georgia House of Representatives, Jones served as the CEO of DeKalb County, and served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1993 to 2001.
The renegade Democrat’s endorsement was not well received by his colleagues.
“Vernon Jones is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party and does not stand for our values,” Georgia Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikema Williams said in a prepared statement. “He chose to stand with the racist president who has made an all-out assault on black Americans … during the most important election of our lifetimes.”
Immediately after Jones’s endorsement, Fair Fight — a group launched by failed gubernatorial candidate and romance novelist Stacey Abrams — announced it would support Jones’s Democratic primary challenger, Rhonda Taylor.
Jones’s announcement on Wednesday suggested that it is Trump’s likely opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, who has enacted racist policies.
“I endorsed the White guy (Donald J. Trump) that let Blacks out of jail, and they endorsed the White guy (Joe Biden) that put Blacks in jail,” he said.
While the state representative said he is stepping down from office, he is not leaving the Democratic Party, noting that he wishes to remain in order to “hold them accountable to how they are treating black people (and) root out the bigotry.”
“I will remain woke and vigilant in educating and fighting for my people,” Jones said.
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