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Federal

John Rutherford accused of racism after ‘Ayatollah sympathizer’ comments

Did Congressman cross the line?

Though it appears near-term chances of a full-scale war with Iran are on the wane compared to earlier in the week, fusillade still flies on Twitter.

A Northeast Florida Republican Congressman exchanged barbs with a Democratic Congresswoman on social media Wednesday. The comments were called “reprehensible” by his likely general election opponent.

Responding to Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who said “President Trump recklessly assassinated Qasem Soleimani. He had no evidence of an imminent threat or attack,” Rep. John Rutherford minced no words.

“I was in the same briefing as you,” Rutherford said, “and this is absolutely false. You and your squad of Ayatollah sympathizers are spreading propaganda that divides our nation and strengthens our enemies. #Iran”

Jayapal, who represents Seattle, fired back.

Unlike Rutherford, who unreservedly endorses the president’s foreign policy, the two Senators took issue with the execution of the hit on the Iranian general and the inchoate briefing thereafter.

Rutherford, contrary to the aforementioned, lauded the briefing and the action.

He retweeted President Donald Trump‘s assertion that “all is well!”

And he tweeted that “Americans at home and abroad are safer today because our adversaries know @realDonaldTrump will strongly respond to any acts of violence against U.S. citizens.”

Rutherford strongly yoking himself to Trump is the prerogative of a safe-seat incumbent. Workshopping the phrase “Ayatollah sympathizers” is somewhat easier when a candidate wins every two years by 40 points, as Rutherford did in 2016 and 2018.

In 2020, however, he appears poised for a more serious challenge in Florida’s 4th Congressional District from Democrat Donna Deegan, whose campaign raised $204,000 in 2019’s fourth quarter.

Deegan issued a sharp rejoinder to Rutherford’s original Tweet Thursday morning.

Rutherford has yet to roll out fourth-quarter numbers.

However, he has been fundraising and likely still holds a cash-on-hand lead, with $433,000 on hand at the end of 2019’s 3rd quarter.

Registration leans his way also.

GOP voters comprise 286,013 of the district’s 577,173 registered voters, compared to 155,073 Democrats, with independents and third-party registrants making up the balance.

While Rutherford and Deegan are the prohibitive favorites to emerge on the November ballot, each faces primary challengers.

Democrats Monica DePaul and Chris Eagle have raised nothing.

Likewise, on the Republican side, perpetual candidate Gary Koniz has not raised money. Another Republican, Erick Aguilar, has $52.00 on hand.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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