ATLANTA (AP) — A Democratic state lawmaker from Georgia who recently broke with his party to endorse President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from office.
Rep. Vernon Jones said in a statement that he won’t complete his term representing portions of metro Atlanta’s DeKalb and Rockdale counties in the state House. “I intend not to complete my term effective April 22, 2020,” Jones said, according to news outlets.
Jones announced in a video last week that he’s backing Trump because of the Republican president’s support for criminal justice reform and historically black colleges and universities.
That resulted in swift blowback from fellow Democrats, many of whom quickly and publicly said they were making donations to Rhonda Taylor, a community activist running for Jones’ seat in the state’s June 9 Democratic primary. State Sen. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, issued a statement calling Jones an “embarrassment.”
Jones is no stranger to controversy. He previously served as DeKalb County’s CEO, weathering allegations of theft in the role, and has often clashed with other Democrats on policy differences around immigration and LGBT issues. He’s also the subject of a complaint alleging he doesn’t live in the district he represented, which he has called baseless.
“The Left hates me because they can’t control me,” Jones said on Twitter on Wednesday.
Jones’ decision not to seek reelection could clear the runway for Taylor to take the seat representing the overwhelmingly Democratic district.