Threats posed by an unfettered political climate of hate and violent rhetoric are not, as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin have claimed, the figment of the “left’s” imagination. Indeed, three Arizona Republicans have now resigned office in light of threats to them from within their own party and the Tea Party and out of fear of their own and their families’ safety. “I love the Republican Party but I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone,” one said in resigning.
Our colleague Ben Armbruster at ThinkProgress reports that “just hours after 22-year-old gunman Jared Loughner launched a shooting spree at a Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) constituent event in Tucson on Saturday… Legislative District chairman Anthony Miller, a Republican, announced that he would resign his position.”
Armbruster writes that “In an email to the state’s GOP chair, Miller cited “constant verbal attacks” after his election last year “and Internet blog posts by some local members with Tea Party ties made him worry about his family’s safety.”
Many of his Republican colleagues followed him out the door:
In an e-mail sent a few hours after Saturday’s massacre in Tucson that killed six and injured 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Miller told state Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen he was quitting: “Today my wife of 20 yrs ask (sic) me do I think that my PCs (Precinct Committee members) will shoot at our home? So with this being said I am stepping down from LD20GOP Chairman…I will make a full statement on Monday.” [...]
The newly-elected Dist. 20 Republican secretary, Sophia Johnson of Ahwatukee, first vice chairman Roger Dickinson of Tempe and Jeff Kolb, the former district spokesman from Ahwatukee, also quit. “This singular focus on ‘getting’ Anthony (Miller) was one of the main reasons I chose to resign,” Kolb said in an e-mail to another party activist. Kolb confirmed the contents of the e-mail to the Republic.
Miller had been on the receiving end of attacks from the GOP’s right-wing activists, particularly because he had worked for Sen. John McCain’s Senate reelection campaign last year against Tea Party favorite J.D. Hayworth:
[A] series of accusatory e-mails was exchanged among party members. Some blasted Miller’s support of McCain, called him a “McCainiac with a penchant for violating the rules” and a “McCain hack.” [...]
Miller said when he was a member of McCain’s campaign staff last year has been criticized by the more conservative party members who supported Republican opponent J.D. Hayworth. The first and only African-American to hold the party’s precinct chairmanship, Miller said he has been called “McCain’s boy,” and during the campaign saw a critic form his hand in the shape of a gun and point it at him.
“I wasn’t going to resign but decided to quit after what happened Saturday,” Miller said. “I love the Republican Party but I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone.”
Meanwhile, writes Armbruster, AZ GOP state senator Lori Klein brought a gun with her to the state Capitol this week. “I pack,” she said. “Our safety is our personal responsibility.” (HT: Balloon Juice)