Exclusive: AZ GOP Official Claps Back After Leftist Columnist Says GOP Leaders 'Should Be Shot'
While President Donald Trump and other federal and state officials attempt to make wise, well-informed decisions about how to respond to the coronavirus, tensions have risen as some demand radical government action amid the pandemic.
One political columnist, however, crossed a concerning line in arguing for a Democrat-favored policy.
Chris Herstam of the Arizona Mirror wrote that state GOP leaders, including Gov. Doug Ducey, should be shot.
What elicited such a strongly worded response?
State Republicans’ opposition to all-mail voting for the primary and general elections later this year.
“Hearing GOP leadership (Governor?) doesn’t intend to allow all-mail elections ’20,” Herstam wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
“The GOP electoral creed: ‘Never make it easier to vote. Suppress and maintain the influence of the aging, white base as long as possible.’
“We’re in a public health crisis. They should be shot.”
The proposition for an all-mail election was brought to state legislators earlier this week by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs ahead of a budget meeting.
“We need to prepare now for any eventuality,” the Democrat wrote in a letter on Wednesday.
“Before the Legislature adjourns, it is vital that we build more flexibility into the law — even if only on a temporary basis — to allow elections officials to adapt to the circumstances on the ground to best protect voters’ health while also preserving the ability to exercise their right to vote.”
The Republican Party of Arizona told The Western Journal, however, that allowing an all-mail election would allow too much opportunity for the vote to be manipulated.
Regardless of where anyone stands on the proposal, Herstam’s call for Republicans to be shot was alarming and caught the attention of another columnist.
Laurie Roberts of The Arizona Republic responded to his comments Thursday evening.
“Whoa, there, Chris. Please reconsider that last sentence of your tweet. I know you don’t mean it literally but these are the strangest of times and someone could misinterpret what you are saying,” she wrote.
He later responded, “Already gone – Thx.”
Whether or not he meant the threat to be taken literally, it’s hard to ignore, especially as political tensions continue to rise during this election cycle.
The Republican Party of Arizona’s executive director, Greg Safsten, told The Western Journal that Herstam’s chilling statement should help Arizona voters understand what’s at stake in the push for all-mail voting.
“On Twitter and on television, Chris Herstam stated that Republicans should be shot if they do not bow to the Democrats’ demand for an all-mail election,” he said.
“His flagrant hatred for his fellow citizens, his obvious bias against Republicans, and his push to put Arizona voters at the mercy of the likes of Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, and a system that can be more easily manipulated by those who would abuse their power, should tell us all where we need to stand on this issue.”
Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward shared screenshots of the interaction between Herstam and Roberts and called out both of them for so flippantly writing off such a statement.
“It is extremely troubling to see a liberal @azcentral blogger excuse a left-wing @azmirror columnist’s comment saying @AZGOP leadership ‘SHOULD BE SHOT,’ as he targets our governor,” she wrote Thursday evening.
“This type of dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric is insane and totally out of bounds. FIRE BOTH!”
It is extremely troubling to see a liberal @azcentral blogger excuse a left-wing @azmirror columnist’s comment saying @AZGOP leadership “SHOULD BE SHOT,” as he targets our governor. This type of dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric is insane and totally out of bounds. FIRE BOTH! pic.twitter.com/lnvgepaT3h
— Dr. Kelli Ward ?? (@kelliwardaz) March 20, 2020
The Western Journal reached out to Herstam for comment but did not receive a response.
UPDATE, March 20, 2020: Late Friday morning, Herstam issued an apology on Twitter and called his comments “hyperbolic and inappropriate.”
Arizona Mirror also responded to his apology and asserted that it would not be running his columns for the next month.
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