Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon called on state Sen. Wendy Rogers to resign her legislative seat following her historic censure.
The call on Thursday represents a shift for Salmon.
The Senate on Tuesday censured Rogers for inflammatory comments at a white nationalist conference in which she called for public hangings of people she perceives as traitors to America, and for threatening retaliation against Republican colleagues who voted to censure her. Salmon responded with a statement that didn’t mention the senator by name, but said there’s “no place in our politics, schools, or workplaces for demeaning and threatening rhetoric.”
Since the censure, Rogers has been harshly critical of her colleagues, reposted inflammatory comments about them on social media, and sent out an email to fundraise off of the censure. Those actions prompted Salmon to rethink his position, he said.
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“I supported the Arizona Senate’s censure of Sen. Wendy Rogers, but the dismissive response that I have witnessed from her indicates a level of misjudgment and a failure of character so outrageous that more stringent action is needed,” Salmon said in a press statement on Thursday.
“At times like this, I believe that it requires someone seeking high office to make use of their voice and platform to say what is necessary: Sen. Rogers must resign her seat in the legislature for the greater good of Arizona and so that LD6 can be effectively represented on issues of public policy, which her ongoing conduct and associations make her incapable of doing.”
In calling on Rogers to resign, Salmon has put a spotlight on two of his opponents in the Republican primary who have ties to Rogers.
GOP frontrunner Kari Lake, whom Rogers has endorsed, does not believe she should resign, according to campaign spokesman Ross Trumble. He said Lake had no comment on the censure or on the controversies that led to it. She has made no public comments about Rogers or her comments. (Lake was initially scheduled to speak at the same white nationalist conference that Rogers did, but withdrew because of a scheduling conflict, according to organizers.)
Karrin Taylor Robson’s campaign did not respond to the Arizona Mirror and has made no public comments about Rogers. Robson in 2020 chaired the Republican Legislative Victory Fund that helped Rogers win her Senate seat, which Robson boasted about on Twitter last year. Had Rogers lost her race, the GOP would have lost its majority in the Senate and the chamber would have been split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.
Fellow Republican gubernatorial hopeful Steve Gaynor has also been highly critical of Rogers and was the first GOP candidate in the race to speak out in support of the censure, calling her comments “unacceptable and incompatible with her role as an elected official.” He has also criticized her for supporting white nationalist leader Nick Fuentes, the organizer of the conference she spoke at last week.
However, Gaynor said on Thursday that he didn’t think Rogers’ actions warranted expulsion or calls for her resignation.
“When members of our party take actions contrary to our values, the appropriate response is to disagree, publicly if necessary. Not only does this set the bounds of acceptable conduct, it creates an expectation for Democrat leadership to do the same,” Gaynor said in a statement provided to the Arizona Mirror. “Anti-American statements made by Katie Hobbs, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, among others, deserved nothing less.”
Ed Morabito, a spokesman for Gaynor, said his reference to Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state and the Democratic frontrunner in the governor’s race, was about a 2017 tweet in which she accused President Donald Trump of “pandering to his neo-nazi base” after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which Trump famously said there were “very fine people” on both sides of the protest over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Hobbs has since defended the tweet.
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