LANSING, Michigan – The leader of the Michigan Republican Party referred to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and two other top Democratic elected women as “witches” that the Republican Party wants to “soften” for a “burning at the stake” in the 2022 election. .
He also joked about the murder when asked how to remove two Republican congressmen, Representatives Fred Upton and Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Ron Weiser’s remarks Thursday during a local Republican meeting, which are on video, were first reported Friday by The Detroit News.
Weiser, who is also an elected member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, said multiple times that the party is focused on defeating “three witches,” a misogynistic reference to Whitmer, state attorney general Dana Nessel and secretary of state. status Jocelyn Benson. who are running for re-election in 2022.
“Our job now is to soften those three witches and make sure that when we have good candidates to compete against them, they are ready to be burned at the stake,” he said. “Maybe the press heard that too.”
Whitmer noted that he had been the target of an alleged kidnapping plot by anti-government extremists last year over the state’s pandemic lockdown.
“Given the dramatic increase in death threats against Michigan elected officials during the Trump Administration, this type of rhetoric is destructive and downright dangerous,” Whitmer said. “It is time for people of goodwill on both sides of the aisle to lower the pressure and reject this kind of divisive rhetoric.”
Some in the crowd appeared to demand that the party cut off support for Upton and Meijer, who were among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the deadly riots on the US Capitol. Someone asked Weiser about “witches in our own group.”
He said: “Ma’am, apart from murder, I have no other way than to vote out. OKAY? You guys have to go out there and support your opponents. You have to do whatever it takes to get the vote in those areas. This is how you hit people. “
On Friday, Weiser tweeted that his comments were “clearly taken out of context” adding that “anyone who knows me understands that I would never advocate for violence.”
Weiser’s spokesman, Ted Goodman, said Weiser made clear that it is up to voters to determine Republican candidates through the primary process. Weiser, a major Republican donor, personally gave money to both Upton, a longtime congressman, and Meijer, now a freshman, in 2020.
Goodman did not address Weiser’s “witches” comment.
The Michigan Democratic Party and two Democratic college board members said Weiser, a major donor to the school, should resign. The university declined to comment.
“Secretary Benson and her colleagues have experienced firsthand how this rhetoric is later used as a justification for very real threats made against government officials, election administrators and democracy itself,” said Benson spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer. “Any leader who does not flatly denounce this type of behavior and attitude is complicit in his silence.”
GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock tweeted that calling someone a witch is not misogynistic, accusing the media of seeing misogyny “where it doesn’t exist.”
Nessel appeared to take the witches’ comment in stride, tweeting an altered photo showing her, Whitmer, and Benson in witch hats. She wrote: “Witches that magically reduce the spread of Covid, increase voter turnout, and hold sexual predators accountable without the help of the legislature? Enroll me in that coven. Do better, Michigan Republican Party. “