Virginia Republican Rep. Tom Garrett announced Monday he was not seeking re-election because of his ongoing battle with alcoholism.
The announcement comes just three days after Garrett reassured voters he was not abandoning his run for a second term in Congress despite a week of turmoil, including reports he and his wife turned staffers into his own “personal servants.”
“Any person – Republican, Democrat or independent—who has known me for any period of time and has any integrity knows two things: I am a good man and I’m an alcoholic,” Garrett said in a video recorded at the state Capitol in Richmond. “This is the hardest statement that I have ever publicly made by far. It’s also the truth.”
Garrett’s tepid fundraising had worried members of his party, but he said his decision not to seek another term was not motivated by fear of losing his seat. Garrett said “sometimes winning means knowing where your priorities should be.”
“This isn’t an ending for me, or my values of service to my fellow man, it’s just a new beginning,” Garrett said.
Republican party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck thanked Garrett for his service in a statement released late Monday:
“On behalf of Republicans around Virginia and especially in the Fifth District, we thank Tom Garrett for his service. Substance abuse is a serious issue that reaches even to the halls of Congress. Tom has tremendous courage for bringing his own struggle to light. We wish him and his family all the best.
The Fifth District Committee will begin the process of choosing a replacement nominee immediately. “Congressman Garrett’s decision not to seek re-election makes it even more imperative that we select the right nominee to defeat the anti-Semitic Democrat nominee, Leslie Cockburn.”
Garrett, who represents the 5th District of Virginia, now joins the group of nearly 40 other Republicans who are not returning to Congress after the 2018 midterm elections.
Last week, the former Virginia state senator was accused of making Congressional staffers pick up groceries, chauffer his children and clean up after his dog, according to a report in Politico.
A spokesman, Matt Missen, said in a statement to Politico that the allegations were “unfounded”.
Garrett was set to face Democratic challenger Leslie Cockburn, who reportedly has raised more money than the Republican incumbent.
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel andThe Associated Press contributed to this report.