Georgia Democrat stepping down after endorsement of Trump

A Democratic state lawmaker from Georgia says he’s stepping down just over a week after breaking party ranks to endorse President Donald Trump

Rep. Vernon Jones announced that he won’t complete his current term representing portions of metro Atlanta’s DeKalb and Rockdale counties in the state House and won’t seek reelection. “I intend not to complete my term effective April 22, 2020,” Jones said in a statement.

Jones has been the subject of a complaint alleging that he doesn’t live in the district. He has called it baseless.

The Democrat made waves last week when he endorsed Trump, saying in a video that he’s backing the Republican president because of his support for criminal justice reform and historically black colleges and universities.

The endorsement resulted in swift blowback from fellow state Democrats, many of whom publicly said they were making donations to Rhonda Taylor, a community activist running for Jones’ seat in the state’s Democratic primary set for June 9. 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.

“The Left hates me because they can’t control me,” Jones said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Jones spokesman CJ Pearson said he is exploring other ways to continue serving the community as he supports Trump’s reelection.

Jones’s decision could clear the runway for Taylor to take the seat representing the overwhelmingly Democratic district.