Michigan Republican Party leader Ron Weiser called the state’s top Democratic officials “witches” and referred to “assassination” Thursday as he urged answers on how to remove two seated GOP congressmen.
In a video obtained from The Detroit News, Weiser made the comments while answering audience questions at a meeting of the North Oakland Republican Club. The comments quickly met criticism from Democrats across the state, including at least two other University of Michigan rulers.
See the video here.
Someone in the crowd asked how US Representatives Fred Upton of St. Joseph and Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids Township, who were among the ten Republicans in the House to support the impeachment of former President Donald Trump in January, should be ousted . The Senate voted for the acquittal.
Weiser responded that the party was focused on beating the “three witches” in 2022, referring to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson – the three nationwide Democratic leaders who are up for re-election next year .
Then you can hear someone in the crowd asking about the “witches in our own party”.
“Ma’am, besides the assassination, I have no other way … than to vote. OK?” Said Weiser. “You people have to go out there and support their opponents. You have to do what you need to get the vote in those areas. That’s how you beat people.”
The democratic regents Mark Bernstein and Jordan Acker, who serve at Weiser, asked him to resign.
“Ron Weiser’s ruthless and dangerous language does not reflect the values of our board of directors and our institution,” said Acker, vice chairman of the board. “Comments about removal by ‘assassination’ are a literal attack on our democracy and incredibly dangerous in the face of the January 6 uprising in the Capitol.”
Bernstein denounced the comments as “obviously sexist”, “dangerous” and “harmful to our state and the University of Michigan”.
“Our job as regents is to be responsible stewards for the University of Michigan,” he said in an email. “We have to protect democracy, honor the public service and support our students. Regent Weiser failed to do this. Our university and the people in this state deserve better. He should resign.”
When asked for Weiser’s comments on Friday, a Michigan Republican Party spokesman said Weiser and the party’s executive director Jason Roe, who also spoke at the event, made it clear that it is up to the voters to choose the Republican Party candidates determine.
“The chairman has personally donated to all Republican congressmen in Michigan and is focused on defeating Democrats instead of involving the party in primary struggles,” said party spokesman Ted Goodman.
“The chair made it clear that the primary electoral process is how we determine our candidates for office,” added Goodman. “To suggest otherwise is dishonest and irresponsible.”
Weiser repeatedly used the expression “the three witches” in his speech on Thursday evening.
“Our job now is to soften these three witches and make sure that if we have good candidates against them, they are ready to burn at the stake,” Weiser said at one point. “And maybe the press heard that too.”
Nessel responded on Twitter Friday afternoon, asking if she, Whitmer and Benson were “witches who magically decrease the spread of Covid, increase voter turnout and bring sexual predators to justice without the help of lawmakers”.
“Sign me up for this coven. Better do it Michigan GOP,” tweeted Nessel.
Benson said it was “terribly reckless and irresponsible” for someone in a leadership position to make such hot-air comments against officials after the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a plot to kidnap Whitmer and the January 6 uprising in the U.S. Had thwarted the Capitol.
“Still, it is a sad and desperate continuation of what we expected from the leader of a party that sent busloads of people to this riot and whose counterparts met with the very same militia group that attempted the kidnapping,” said Benson.
Whitmer tweeted a photo of himself with Lindy West’s book “The Witches Are Coming”.
“For a long time some men have called women like me ‘witches’ to silence and discredit us,” wrote Whitmer, quoting the author.
According to the US Capitol Police, threats to members of Congress increased 94% in the first two months of the year compared to the same period last year.
The leader of the Democratic Party of Michigan, Lavora Barnes, called on Weiser to resign from the UM in order to encourage “the peripheral areas at all costs”.
“As a member of the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents, he oversees millions of tax dollars. It is clear that his comments do not reflect the values of the board, faculty, and student body of the university. In addition to being sexist, his statements are downright dangerous and.” only urge damage to the institution’s reputation. We urge him to resign immediately, “Barnes said in a statement.
Meijer, who won a race for a seat in the US House of Representatives in 2020, has spoken publicly about his threats received after the vote to indict Trump and the Capitol Rebellion. Meijer said he wanted to buy body armor, change his daily routines and take other security measures to respond to the threats.
“We live in unstable times. There are 10 of us (Republicans) who voted for impeachment and that literally and figuratively puts a target on our backs,” Meijer told the Detroit News in January.
“It’s something I’m very aware of. We’re trying to downplay this, but there is escalating rhetoric. At the same time, we need to press for accountability before we can really heal these divisions.”
Spokesmen for Meijer and Upton declined to comment on Weiser’s statements.
Upton is Michigan’s senior Republican member of Congress and has served for more than three decades. Both Meijer and Upton have won primary challengers and censored votes from Republican parties at the county level since supporting the impeachment.
Upton has previously said he would support Trump if he agreed and disagree if he thought Trump was wrong.
“Congress should not tolerate efforts to impede the peaceful transfer of power. I flew to southwest Michigan every day in Congress to create jobs, economic growth and opportunities for our region of the state,” said Upton. “And that is exactly what I will continue to do.”
Asked about the future of Meijer and Upton at Thursday’s event, Weiser said it was a matter for the voters.
“The main voters will decide if they will vote,” he said.
“We happen to live in a democracy in which officials are elected by the people,” added Weiser later. “The only way to change leadership is to get out and vote.”
During Thursday night’s event, Roe said if people are upset with Meijer and Upton they should give money to their opponents. The state Republican Party is not interfering in the primary and is focused on winning the November election, he said.
“We don’t win by subtraction. We win by addition. And I don’t know how we can go to minorities, to democrats, to independents and say, ‘Hey, come with us, come with us to change this country. We want you to be with us “when we murder our own,” said Roe.
Weiser became chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for the third time in February after defeating previous chairwoman Laura Cox in a congressional race. He is a businessman and a member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents. In response to Weiser’s comments, US Representative Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn tweeted that words have consequences and that “people have died because of inexcusable statements like this one.”
But Weiser’s co-chair, Meshawn Maddock, defended him.
“It’s a shame that all the snowflakes in the mainstream media see misogyny where it doesn’t exist. Calling someone a witch is NOT a misogynist,” Maddock tweeted. “This is more of the same from the left – immediately refer to everything as ‘misogyny’ or ‘racist’. This harms real efforts to become a fairer society.”
The employee Melissa Nann Burke contributed to this