Dr. Christopher Peters, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional district, is announcing today that he will not vote for Donald Trump for president. His decision comes after the release of Trump’s 2005 comments where he bragged about sexually assaulting women. Peters will “abstain from voting in the presidential election,” according to his press release this morning.
“A large number of former and current Republican politicians have now disavowed Trump,” Peters says in a column he’s publishing today. “All of them have far more political clout than I do, and to be honest, I don’t think people should care so much about what I think. But I cannot avoid the issue any longer.”
Calling the presidential election a “colossal distraction,” he says he also cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, who he also believes has poor judgement and character. And he goes further with Trump, charging him with not even having a clear understanding of Constitutional matters, basic economic policies, the rule of law or civil rights.
“I should have spoken out against him much earlier, and regret that I failed to do so,” Peters adds.
He also announced that his campaign is rolling out plans to create better access for third party candidates, both on the ballot and in debates. That’s quite the move for someone running on the Republican Party ticket and may not sit well with party leaders.
“These are two of the most unpopular political figures of our time, but this isn’t just about them,” he says. “Any system that would select these two candidates as the choices for president is deeply flawed and is in need of fundamental reform.”
Notably, while many others who have denounced Trump have cited their own daughters or experience in fighting sexual assault as reasons for their decision, Peters brings up his sons.
“Donald Trump’s remarks about women that surfaced last week – along with his well-documented pattern of disparaging remarks about women, minorities, and other groups – demonstrate disturbing character deficiencies. My wife and I have three teenage sons, and if I ever learned that any of them grew up to be men who conduct themselves like Trump, I would be deeply disappointed,” he says in the column.
Peters has received nominal support from the Republican Party in his long-shot bid to oust Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack in the Democratic-leaning district, but hasn’t received a lot of attention during his run. He ran on the Libertarian ticket against State Senator Bob Dvorsky in 2010, and is a surgeon in the Iowa City area. He sits down for a forum with Loebsack later today in Coralville.
While Peters’ move will certainly anger state party leaders, steadfast in their unity for Trump, as well as many Trump-backing voters in the 2nd Congressional District, it might actually give Peters a bit of a boost among young voters in Johnson County who are leaning third party this year. Given his libertarian background, it’s a little surprising that he’s abstaining from the presidential vote altogether, as opposed to voting for Gary Johnson.
Below is Peters’ full column on his decision:
One of my goals when I decided to run for Congress this year was to elevate our political discourse. Throughout the campaign, I’ve rejected partisan talking points in favor of nuanced and realistic discussions about the issues that matter here in Iowa’s 2nd District.
My campaign team and I have tried to avoid discussing the presidential election. Some Democrats accused me of endorsing Trump because I wouldn’t disavow him, while some Republicans accused me of disavowing Trump because I wouldn’t endorse him. As an independent-minded Republican in a Democrat-leaning district, I hoped to make the point that presidential politics shouldn’t dominate our political conversations to the extent that it has.
A large number of former and current Republican politicians have now disavowed Trump. All of them have far more political clout than I do, and to be honest, I don’t think people should care so much about what I think. But I cannot avoid the issue any longer.
Donald Trump’s remarks about women that surfaced last week – along with his well-documented pattern of disparaging remarks about women, minorities, and other groups – demonstrate disturbing character deficiencies. My wife and I have three teenage sons, and if I ever learned that any of them grew up to be men who conduct themselves like Trump, I would be deeply disappointed. I trust that my wife Julie and I have raised them better than that.
Trump’s behavior and temperament are only a part of the problem. He has repeatedly demonstrated a poor grasp of constitutionalism, civil rights, the rule of law, the role of diplomacy versus military interventionism, and even fundamental economics. I should have spoken out against him much earlier, and regret that I failed to do so.
Neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton have exhibited the character and judgment necessary to be president, and I cannot vote for either of them.
These are two of the most unpopular political figures of our time, but this isn’t just about them. Any system that would select these two candidates as the choices for president is deeply flawed and is in need of fundamental reform.
I have been warmly welcomed by most Iowa Republicans since I decided earlier this year to run for Congress on the GOP ticket and I remain ready to work with them, both during this campaign and throughout my time in Congress. I grew up in a Republican household, I’ve supported many Republican candidates over my lifetime, and my staff is made up of young Republicans.
But like most Americans and most Iowans, my views don’t fully align with either party’s platform.
When I get to Congress, I’ll get to work on a set of reforms that address the structural defects that have made our political process so toxic. They include lowering barriers for third-party candidates, restricting the influence of money in politics, and exploring major changes to our voting system. More details about those plans are available at my website, DrPetersForIowa.com.
I won’t begrudge or shame anyone for whom they chose to vote for. But to those supporting a candidate they see as the “lesser of two evils,” I ask this – how many more elections will we have to vote this way? Does voting this way bring us closer to fixing our political system, or push us further away? And most importantly, what will you do in the next four years to help?
The presidential campaign has become a colossal distraction from the many other races happening around our state. My team and I plan to resume focusing on the issues important to Iowans. Regardless of who wins the presidential election, we will need strong and principled legislators to stand up to whatever nonsense might emanate from the White House in the next four years.
by Pat Rynard