What do you do when they come for you? Not be there, says Republican District Chairman Anthony Miller, 43, and several others, who have decided to not make themselves targets in the wake of Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting on Saturday.
Sometimes you’re just not “Republican” enough – it’s not only Democrats that the Tea Party runs its extremist candidates against, and it’s not only Democrats the Tea Party calls names and uses stormtrooper tactics against.
The Tea Party, of course, has its own candidates and they ran against what they saw were more moderate Republicans like Mr. Miller. They won three District 20 leadership positions but Thomas Morrissey, who ran against Mr. Miller, lost, despite having the support of Shrieff Joe Arpaio (or maybe because?).
Anthony Miller could see bloody handwriting on the wall; he knew when the getting was good. When you live in a state where it’s easy to obtain and carry a gun, and you watch a Democratic congresswoman gunned down in public, your choice is made easy.
Mr. Miller was justifiably afraid of violence. He had worked on John McCain’s campaign and was re-elected to his chairmanship last month (a one-year term) and was under constant attack post-election by blog posts and Tea Partiers.
The “purity” Republicans supported McCain’s Tea Party opponent J.D. Hayworth. Mr. Miller, the first (and only) African-American to hold the party’s precinct chairmanship, was called “McCain’s boy” by Republican opponents and once during the campaign he saw a critic form his hand in the shape of a gun and point it at him. That image probably resonated strongly, especially in light of Giffords’ shooting. That’s something you’d remember – and think about.
He was also called a “McCainiac with a penchant for violating the rules” and a “McCain hack.”
It took only a few hours to make up his mind: He emailed state Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen:
“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.”
Keep in mind, these are not Republicans quitting because they fear Limbaugh’s and Palin’s phantasmal Democratic attacks, but Republicans who are quitting because they fear other Republicans and the Tea Party.
It’s Republicans with guns that Mr. Miller is afraid of.
And it wasn’t just Mr. Miller who quit:
- Sophia Johnson of Ahwatukee, newly-elected Dist. 20 Republican secretary;
- Roger Dickinson of Tempe, first vice chairman; and
- Jeff Kolb, former district spokesman from Ahwatukee.
“This singular focus on ‘getting’ Anthony (Miller) was one of the main reasons I chose to resign,” Kolb said.
Senator John McComish of Ahwatukee said he supported Miller as chairman and said “He didn’t deserve to be hounded out of office.”
By his own party, no less. This isn’t McComish’s first rodeo but he said this one was more extreme than those he’d seen before.
Mr. Miller obviously thought it was too extreme for 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.”
Of course, there has been no comment from the Ahwatukee Tea Party group; hard to talk when you’re salivating over the successful employment of racist terror tactics.
Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen also has not commented but he is in Washington, D.C. and hasn’t been available for comment, and State party spokesman Matt Roberts said he could not discuss details of the situation.