Sen. Susan Collins of Maine penned a Washington Post op-ed earlier this week declaring she "will not be voting for Donald Trump for president." Collins added that she did not make this decision in haste, but because Trump "does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country," for the first time in her life she could not in good conscience support her party's nominee.
Collins argued that Trump had gone beyond "rejecting the conventions of political correctness" to "showing complete disregard for common decency" and has an "inability to admit error or apologize." The moderate Republican concluded her op-ed with by writing:
Some will say that as a Republican I have an obligation to support my party's nominee. I have thought long and hard about that, for being a Republican is part of what defines me as a person. I revere the history of my party, most particularly the value it has always placed on the worth and dignity of the individual, and I will continue to work across the country for Republican candidates. It is because of Mr. Trump's inability and unwillingness to honor that legacy that I am unable to support his candidacy.
The list of sitting members of the House and Senate to go on record as saying they will not endorse or vote for Trump is not overwhelming, but significant particularly because of the inclusion of a few pols from swing states.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the New York Times in June that he hoped his Republican colleagues would retract their endorsements of Trump, adding, "There'll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary." Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said he'll be looking for a "third option," and in June, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois tweeted one of his reasons why he won't be supporting Trump:
Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.
— Mark Kirk (@MarkKirk) June 7, 2016
Trump's toughest critics among Republican senators who haven't yet gone full #NeverTrump in the form of an explicit declaration that they won't vote for him include Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and of course, the GOP nominee's runner up Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who was booed off the Republican National Convention (RNC) stage when he urged Americans to vote their consciences and notably did not endorse Trump.
Over in the House, Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia, who is retiring and has little to lose by bucking the party, has endorsed the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Two other retiring Congressmen, Reid J. Ribble of Wisconsin and Rep. Richard Hanna of New York have also professed they won't vote for Trump. For his part, Hanna said he'd go all the way to the other side and vote for Clinton, in part because he finds the GOP nominee to be "profoundly offensive and narcissistic but as much as anything, a world-class panderer, anything but a leader."
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) has said he won't vote for Trump but has no plans to publicly endorse anyone, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen declined to endorse Trump or Hillary Clinton, while her Sunshine State colleague Rep. Carlos Curbelo has said his choice not to support Trump was a "moral decision." CBS Miami reported unnamed sources close to Curbelo as saying he might vote for Clinton.
Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania also won't vote for Trump, who he says has "crossed a bridge too far," while Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois stated he won't vote for Trump because he sees himself as "an American before I'm a Republican." Another Illinois Republican, Rep. Bob Dold told WLS radio back in May that he would be writing someone in on his ballot, citing Trump's "comments about women, his comments about Muslims, his comments about Latinos" and most personally for Dold, "his comments about POWs."
With about three months to go in this seemingly interminable campaign, and Trump finding new ways to lower the bar of acceptable discourse, it will be interesting to see if more sitting congresspeople heed Lindsey Graham's call to "un-endorse" their party's nominee, or if party loyalty truly trumps all other considerations.