Hillsborough County Republican Party Chair Jim Waurishuk has spent the past several days rallying against protesters speaking out against police brutality and systemic racism following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, prompting calls to resign from within his own party.
On Tuesday, Waurishuk shared an article about former President Barack Obama’s statements on the protests calling them “a real turning point” in the fight for police reform.
His post was full of fiery rhetoric and claims that protesters were bent on murder. Waurishuk said the post was not aimed at all protesters, just “violent hard core radical political left extremists.”
“Every American better wake up. If we loose (sic) this country you will loose (sic) your life. If you’re a Republican, Conservative, Democrat Trump supporter, etc. — you will be murdered. You will be dragged from your burning home and be beat to death. This is a fact. This what they stand for,” Waurishuk wrote about protesters.
The post claimed Obama admitted “that the coordinated mayhem was all about energizing their base to get out the vote … by any means necessary.”
“This leaves no doubt remaining that the Progressive Political-left Commies are willing t destroy and kill to achieve their goals,” Waurishuk wrote.
The post drew praise from likeminded individuals commenting, but rebuke from the local Republican establishment officials seeking to unite in a time of mass division.
“It seems there was no purpose to that post,” former Hillsborough County Republican Party Chair Deborah Tamargo said. “How does this address issues we’re dealing with today?”
She called his comments “heartbreaking.”
Rep. Jackie Toledo simply called the comments “absolutely unacceptable.”
She wants him to apologize and resign. So does Rep. Jamie Grant.
“I’ve made it clear I’m not going to be a part of the Republican Executive Committee if he’s there,” Grant said. “If the leadership of an organization continues to make provocative statements and I’m affiliated with that organization, at what point are those comments are mine?”
Rep. Lawrence McClure stopped short of calling for his resignation. He figures plenty of others are already doing that, but said the comments were troubling in a time when healing, not division, is needed.
“We need to be having a holistic conversation about how to heal our community,” McClure said. “We don’t need to be putting proverbial gas on the fire.”
It’s no secret Obama is universally loathed within certain sects of the Republican Party. But Waurishuk didn’t stop there.
“Democrats just realized the riots aren’t going to last forever and the economy has already started to rebound. Now they need a new hoax,” he wrote Friday night.
An hour before that he posted an image of rifle bullets with the words “Welcome to rural America. We don’t use rubber bullets.”
In another post, he called protesters “pathetic low-life cowards.”
The same day he said former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former CIA Director John Brennan, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr and “a host of others” should be “remanded into custody to swing on the gallows in the public square.”
“With everything going on in the world today, we need real leaders to call for calm, bring people together and find solutions. Jim’s posts are unbecoming of a leader of the Republican Party. They are symptomatic of a total lack of understanding and leadership. It’s sad his lack of judgement has further weakened us, here locally,” Republican political consultant Anthony Pedicini said.
It’s not the first time Waurishuk has faced criticism and calls to resign within his own party. In 2018, party leaders wanted him to resign after lackluster performance in the midterm elections.
Not only did Waurishuk resist calls to resign, he continued his divisive rhetoric into 2019, posting images and statements on social media that prompted criticism, and in some cases, posts actually being removed. Some of those included images of nooses and actual lynchings, made in reference to the President Donald Trump impeachment hearings, according to Creative Loafing.
Waurishuk did not respond to a request for comment.