Paul Mitchell, a former US congressman from Michigan who championed Republican priorities before leaving the party over its embrace of election lies, died on Sunday following a battle with cancer. He was 64.
“Paul was an American. He was the embodiment of what we can be if we choose to love and fight for what matters,” Mitchell’s wife, Sherry, said in a statement provided to CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“Paul loved with reckless abandon and would fiercely protect others whether they were family or strangers. You were worthy and loved and part of his flock.”
After graduating from Michigan State University in 1978, Mitchell maintained a long career in business before turning his attention to Republican politics. He was elected to the St. Clair City, Michigan, council in 2008 and later served as the state’s GOP finance chairman before a successful US House bid in 2016.
Though he quickly became a reliable conservative presence in Congress, Mitchell’s tenure was punctuated by a dramatic exit from the Republican Party in 2020 in response to then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the November election.
Mitchell, having decided to change his party affiliation to independent, told Tapper at the time: “This party has to stand up for democracy first, for our Constitution first, and not political considerations. Not to protect a candidate. Not simply for raw political power, and that’s what I feel is going on and I’ve had enough.”
The congressman announced in 2019 – about six months into his second term – that he would not seek reelection. Days before, he had condemned a Trump tweet urging four freshmen Democratic women to “go back” to where they came from; Mitchell said such comments were “beneath leaders.”
Mitchell is survived by his wife, Sherry, and their six children.