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Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.


In wake of van attack, Ronna McDaniel heads to Jacksonville

Republicans see a media double standard in coverage.

Winston Churchill once advised “never let a crisis go to waste,” and prominent Republicans in Jacksonville will abide by that counsel Saturday.

With one week passed since an Iowan transplant menaced Republicans registering voters at a Sandalwood Wal-Mart, Republicans are planning yet another press conference about the incident.

The subject this time: “the assailant’s confession.”

A leit motif from Republicans: that the media is not covering this incident and similar ones as politically-motivated terror attacks, likely because of animus toward President Donald Trump and his supporters.

The apparent hope: that Saturday’s event turns things around, creating an epiphany of sorts for previously resistant press (even as it will be weekend reporters, not the big names, framing the narrative).

Jacksonville Republicans already had one presser on Monday, with Republican Party of Florida chair Joe Gruters headlining.

However, local party chair Dean Black made the headlines, vowing “revenge” at the polling place.

Black parlayed his star turn into two appearances on the Ingraham Angle, including a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo Thursday evening, as the Fox News host rushed through segments in what seemed to be a traffic jam of a show format.

Black, now nationally known, will be in attendance Saturday; however, the nominal draw is Ronna Romney McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chairwoman.

Also on hand: U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, who looks to face a formidable general election challenge from Democrat Donna Deegan despite holding incumbency in a district with a strong Republican plurality.

As well, Gruters makes a return to the Northeast Florida metropolis to message anew.

Last weekend,  Gregory William Loel Timm was charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a person 65 years old or older, one count of criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license after driving his truck toward Republicans registering voters forTrump’s re-election.

Timm’s take: “Someone had to take a stand … it was like someone sh—ing on your grave,” he said about the seemingly provocative optics of a voter registration booth.

McDaniel and Black likely will reiterate the sentiments from a media release earlier this week, in which they thundered about a “deranged criminal’s … thuggish acts.”

“The assailant’s own confession makes it clear that Saturday was a deliberate and politically motivated attack on supporters of President Trump. What happened in Jacksonville is completely reprehensible and unacceptable. Political violence has no place in our democratic process, and we will not bend to these thuggish acts,” said Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman.

“It is high time that the national media begin to act responsibly in this case and call this deranged criminal’s attack what has been clear: An obvious assault motivated by blind rage toward President Trump,” Black said Dean Black.

Black added that “with the release of a revised police report, the national media now has no place to hide. They must now cover this story honestly or abandon all pretenses of integrity.”

With a week since the incident, the question is whether the national media covers the story at all, or moves on. The McDaniel bet is that there is at least one more news cycle left.

Written By

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

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