A founding member of the anti-establishment House Freedom Caucus, Republican Congressman Matt Salmon of Arizona announced Thursday that he’s leaving Congress after his current term ends.
Citing family as his top priority, Mr. Salmon wrote in a column for The Arizona Republic explaining the reasons for his departure after a collective 10 years representing Arizona in the House.
“But even with the amazing experience of being your congressman, I often reflect on the worst aspect of my job. That spot belongs solely and exclusively to the time spent away from my family,” he wrote.
“I strongly believe in the simple truth that in any man’s life, his top priority should be his family.”
Salmon left Congress for the first time in 2001 after six years of service. He ran again in 2012 because his constituents were sick of the federal government’s policies, he said.
“I understood; my own children were dealing with the fallout of President Obama’s devastating economic platform, and I couldn’t just sit on my hands while their futures were being mortgaged away,” he wrote.
Salmon had four children when he was first elected to Congress in 1994.
“During the six years of my first tenure in Congress,” he explained, “I missed so many important events like birthdays, school dances, senior proms, soccer games and cross-country meets.”
Now, he has seven grandchildren and his entire family lives in Arizona.
"And more than ever, it seems the biggest hypocrisy to abandon my family in a quest to protect them," he wrote. "After much soul-searching, that’s just not a trade I can justify making any longer."
As part of the Freedom Caucus, the nine-member faction that successfully toppled John Boehner from his role as Speaker. Last September, Salmon, a tea-party favorite, was recruited by conservative groups like FreedomWorks to run against Sen. John McCain (R). He ultimately rejected the challenge.
In 2013, Salmon was part of the effort that defeated Mr. McCain’s bipartisan proposal on immigration reform. According to The Republic, Salmon's policy priorities in recent years were reforming Social Security and promoting aggressive foreign policy.
In his column, Salmon wasn’t without complaints about the job.
“Of course, not everything about being an elected official feels so rewarding. It's quite an understatement to say my votes (and my views) have occasionally angered some constituents (and the media), regardless of party,” he wrote.
“Many times, I’ve had very busy office phone lines, email inboxes and social media accounts with strongly worded commentary.”
Salmon, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and a motorcycle enthusiast, will finish the last nine months of term and will not seek re-election. He told The Arizona Republic that he will endorse Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs to replace him.