U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth announced Wednesday that he won’t run for reelection in south central Indiana’s 9th District, raising speculation about what the three-term Republican congressman might do next.
“I took a pledge to limit my own terms to four because of this very idea: to remind me to focus on the people and that serving the public wasn’t intended to be a career by our founders,” the Republican wrote in an op-ed for several media organizations.
Hollingsworth, 38, didn’t directly address his future plans in the piece, but lamented the “misaligned incentive” of “politicians using their office to catapult themselves to another office, to a Committee assignment, or to a high-paying lobbying job.”
Hollingsworth’s team didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. However, his op-ed said he is contemplating “how I can work for you in new and better ways in the future.”
Should he decide to continue in politics, he would have the opportunity to run for Indiana’s highest office, that of the governor. It will be an open seat in the 2024 because under state law Gov. Eric Holcomb is prohibited from seeking a third term.
Democrats immediately raised the possibility of Hollingsworth potentially running for governor.
“It’s no secret that Tennessee Trey will try to buy his way into the Governor’s office in 2024 and attempt to lead an Indiana Republican Party that continues to push their extreme culture wars ahead of a better future for Hoosier families,” Indiana Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson said in an email.
Hollingsworth, the son of a Tennessee business mogul, was first elected in 2016. He moved to Indiana’s 9th District the year before launching his first, largely self-funded, campaign.
Hollingsworth, who lives with his family in Jeffersonville, was one of only 35 House Republicans who voted with Democrats last year to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
He is the 12th Republican in the House to opt to retire or seek another office.
Hollingsworth, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University, co-founded a company that rebuilds manufacturing sites. He was ranked as one of the wealthiest members of Congress during his first term. He made headlines a month after the start of the pandemic by arguing that it was time for Americans to go back to work after companies and governments shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The answer, he said, is “unequivocally to get Americans back to work, to get Americans back to their businesses,” reopening schools and churches as well.
“There is no zero-harm choice here,” he told Indianapolis’s WIBC.
“Both of these decisions will lead to harm for individuals, whether that’s dramatic economic harm or whether it’s loss of life,” Hollingsworth added. “But it’s always the American government’s position to say, in the choice between the loss of our way of life as Americans and the loss of life of American lives, we have to always choose the latter.”
He often pointed to his experience as an outsider as one of the reasons he should represent Indiana voters on Capitol Hill.
“We need more people from outside of politics, to change how things work,” he wrote. “As a businessman, I invested in shuttered warehouses and helped turn around companies.”
“As an outsider, I was successful because it was clear to me that those who have an incentive to maintain the status quo can’t be relied upon to change the status quo,” the lawmaker added.
Republicans are favored to recapture majority control of the House in November’s midterm elections as the party out of power typically prevails in a president’s first term. While 12 Republicans have decided against reelection, 26 Democrats have said they will retire or seek another office.