The Minnesota Democratic Party has suspended a spokesman for calling for violence against Republicans even as two GOP candidates have been assaulted in suspected politically motivated attacks.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has suspended communications staffer William Davis for one week without pay after making a Facebook post joking that Democrats would "bring [Republicans] to the guillotine" on Nov. 7, the day after the midterm elections. Minnesota Republican Party chairman Jennifer Carnahan said the suspension was not enough, calling for his immediate firing in the aftermath of separate attacks against Republican candidates. She said she has been subjected to numerous death threats during her tenure as the state party leader and that death threats are no laughing matter.
Recent Stories in Politics
"The overt hatred and violence that has become prevalent from many Democrats towards Republicans in recent times is unlawful, unacceptable, and downright scary," she said in an email. "Yes, we have free speech and the right to peacefully assemble, but these words and actions by the left have gone too far. … He should have been terminated immediately."
DFL officials did not respond to request for comment.
The suspension came days after Minnesota state representative Sarah Anderson was punched in the arm after spotting a man destroying Republican yard signs. She said the attack left her scared, and her attacker only desisted when she fled to her car and threw it in reverse.
"It was just insane. He was charging at me, saying, ‘Why don't you go kill yourself?'" Anderson told the Washington Free Beacon. "To have someone physically coming after you and attacking you is just disheartening."
The Plymouth Police Department investigation into Rep. Anderson's alleged assault remains ongoing. A spokeswoman confirmed the department had identified a suspect, but declined further comment.
Anderson was not the only GOP candidate attacked. First-time state representative candidate Shane Mekeland suffered a concussion after getting sucker punched while speaking with constituents at a restaurant in Benton County. Mekeland told the Free Beacon he has suffered memory loss—forgetting Rep. Anderson's name at one point in the interview—and doctors tell him he will have a four-to-six week recovery time ahead of him. He said he was cold cocked while sitting at a high top table at a local eatery and hit his head on the floor.
"I was so overtaken by surprise and shock and if this is the new norm, this is not what I signed up for," he said.
Benton County Sheriff Troy Heck told the Free Beacon that his department has interviewed the alleged assailant. Investigators are awaiting medical records about the extent of Mekeland's injuries before referring the case to the local district attorney's office. He expects those results to come in the next week.
Mekeland said he was disappointed that he had not seen Democrats condemn the attack against him, but was floored to see the party take such a light approach to Davis's comments.
"He's a political staffer so you'd think if anybody should know boundaries, I think that'd be it," he said.
Anderson was equally harsh about the DFL's response, calling it "incredibly irresponsible."
"This is exactly what incites people to violence. … It's why you have somebody who goes and attacks me on Sunday just because we have different political beliefs," she said.
The alleged assaults have both candidates weighing changes in their approach to campaigning in closing days of the race. Mekeland was unable to leave the house to knock on doors due to his sensitivity to sunlight on Tuesday. He said he and his volunteers will only travel in pairs for the rest of the campaign to ensure they are not alone during such visits, which will limit the ground they cover. Anderson said she has gotten offers from her husband and other volunteers to escort her around the district. She pledged to keep knocking on doors until Election Day.
"I refuse to be bullied and intimidated," she said. "You can’t let this stop you from reaching out and talking to voters."