Nearly everyone who’s anyone was surprised when Paul Mitchell announced last month that he wouldn’t seek re-election to Congress after his second term concludes in 2020. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family and had grown frustrated with gridlock in Washington.
His reasoning for leaving shouldn’t be questioned, especially when it comes to his family, but deciding to leave only three years in makes one wonder just how serious he was in asking voters to send him to Washington, D.C. The fact that he shelled out millions of dollars to get there in the first place and then decided to change course is maybe the most baffling part of this. Your average 10th District resident would never be in that scenario and maybe that’s what is so striking. It’s reminiscent of a wealthy person shelling out big dollars for a certain hobby that they quickly lose interest in, not batting an eye at the minor hit to their pocketbook. For reference, the average household income for someone in Mitchell’s district is about $81,000.
In his 2.5 years in office, Mitchell has worked on important causes. He introduced a bill that would require more transparency in the realm of college costs and student outcomes and Mitchell fought to keep federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Unfortunately, he hasn’t opted to interact with residents on a regular basis, foregoing the typical town hall type meetings that most members of Congress host even if they aren’t necessarily “pleasant.”
It will be interesting to see how the next 19 months play out for Mitchell. Although he claimed the current political climate in the Capitol is one reason he wants to leave, it’s possible he has a unique opportunity to affect change in that arena. With seemingly “nothing left to lose,” Mitchell should call out fellow officials who go too far in their rhetoric, including those in his own party. Additionally, he could lead by example and use a more diplomatic tone in his official statements rather than the now common “us vs. them” mantra.
In his campaign literature from 2018, Mitchell touted himself as someone “who understands what it means to stand up to the establishment” and believed in the value of “say what you mean and do what you say.” His campaign days may be over but there’s still plenty of time to fulfill those promises to constituents.