The state Democratic Party is targeting Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing with an online petition drive demanding he resign for comments about the president and first lady that “embarrass the entire state.”
State Party Chairman Jaxon Ravens sent out an e-mail Friday afternoon with a “can you believe this?” salutation that accuses Rushing of making racist, sexist and homophobic comments online, including the recently publicized comments about Barack and Michelle Obama. On Facebook, Rushing compared the president to a monkey and Michelle Obama to a gorilla.
Rushing later took down the comments, which he described as banter between friends, said he made a mistake and insisted he isn’t racist.
The Airway Heights City Council, on which he sits, voted 5-1 to ask him to resign. Rushing, who cast the one “no” vote, refused and said resigning would be like admitting he was a racist. But he did deactivate his account with Facebook, which he called a tool of the devil.
“Mayor Rushing’s hateful rhetoric has no place in Washington or anywhere. Add your name today to demand Mayor Rushing resign now!” says the email from Ravens, which links to a petition calling for him to resign.
Contacted Friday afternoon, Rushing hung up before a reporter could ask his reaction to the Democrats’ petition drive. His office is nonpartisan, like most municipal elective positions in Washington.
Ravens’ email says Rushing’s actions embarrass the state: “We are a progressive example for the rest of the country and we deserve so much more from our elected officials.”
Jamal Raad, a spokesman for the party, said the petition drive was a way to organize people and send a message that the comments are unacceptable. Some members who aren’t “tuned in to every political story” don’t know about the comments, he said.
“We haven’t decided what to do with the petitions,” Raad said. They’ll wait to gauge the response early next week.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.