Ex-Michigan congressman who quit GOP over Trump claim dies

DRYDEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A former Michigan congressman who quit the Republican Party to protest GOP efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump has died.

Paul Mitchell died Sunday, according to a statement his family provided to CNN. He was 64.

In June, Mitchell told radio station WJR that he had been diagnosed with renal cancer and survived a high-risk surgery to remove a mass and a blood clot near his heart. He said he would be starting immunotherapy against cancer.

“I am immensely proud of him and never more so then when he was the lone voice in a sea of politicians who cared more about power than the true definition of the office,” his wife Sherry said in the statement.

Mitchell, of Lapeer County’s Dryden Township 40 miles north of Detroit, served two terms representing the 10th District in Michigan’s Thumb region but did not seek reelection in 2020 — citing a desire to focus on his family and expressing frustration with his time in Washington. In December, near the end of his second term, he left the GOP and became an independent amid Trump’s false claims that he beat Biden.

“It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote,” he said at the time.

“Congressman Paul Mitchell served Michiganders with integrity, bringing Midwest grit to our nation’s capital to champion issues important to our state and its people,” state Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said Monday. “Always strong in his convictions, his leadership served this state well. Most importantly, my prayers go out to those who called him husband and dad during this difficult time.”

A retired vocational school company CEO, Mitchell spent millions of his fortune to win in 2016. There will be no public funeral. His wife urged people wishing to honor him to donate money to local foster care charities.