Several local Republican Party members and elected officials quickly condemned the violence that descended on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday while still supporting the political effort to review the outcome of the 2020 election.
Local Democrats also condemned the storming of the Capitol riot and called on Republicans to refute claims of election fraud made by many supporters of President Donald Trump.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knevovich gave voice to the deep sense of violation many felt.
“I have been in those halls. I consider those halls as close to sacred as you can get. The history of this nation resides in those halls,” said Knezovich, who was watching events unfold from Spokane County on Wednesday. “All I could think is, what a desecration of everything we believe in. What a desecration of who we are as Americans.”
Knezovich, a Republican who’s been elected by large majorities for more than a decade, has previously condemned both far-right and far-left extremism. While he continued condemnations of the type of leftist activity seen in cities such as Seattle and Portland this summer, the violence Wednesday was even more egregious, the sheriff said, because it violated the principles of law and order that conservatives value.
“I’m talking about the right, who claims to hold this higher ground,” Knezovich said. “You just devolved to what you claimed you opposed, you just did it. You acted just like them.
“This is a really sad day for our nation.”
Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney, also a Republican, said she agreed with Knezovich and called the riot in the Capitol “unfathomable.”
“I support peaceful protests and the right to free speech, but what happened today is unfathomable and just wrong,” she wrote. “Violence and destruction are not an acceptable form of protest.”
She said she was also very concerned by reports of people attempting to storm the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia, calling them “shocking and sad.”
Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, whose elected position is nonpartisan, also condemned the mob that stormed the Capitol, calling the event a “sad day for our country.”
“We watched with great disappointment and heavy hearts the violence and disruption today in the U.S. Capitol Building,” she said. “Freedom of speech and expression are hallmarks of our country and violence and property destruction have no place in that process.”
She asked that any community members who respond to that protest in Spokane do so peacefully and appropriately.
The Spokane County Republican Central Committee approved a resolution Tuesday night supporting the effort in Congress, which had been backed by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, to re-examine the elections in several states won by Biden before certifying their electoral college vote. Beva Miles, a district leader who helped draft the Spokane County GOP resolution , stood by its message Wednesday while condemning the actions of those forcing their way into the Capitol.
“It’s wrong either way. An armed standoff at the Capitol, there’s no excuse for it,” Miles said. She noted the size of the crowd in Washington D.C., and said there were plenty of conservatives who felt as though they’ve had their “fair say” in the election.
She said she also supported the McMorris Rodgers decision to reverse course on objecting to certification of some electoral vote, saying McMorris Rodgers makes every decision with conviction.
“I’m not going to second-guess the congresswoman, she was in the chamber when this happened and I’m sure it was something that was on her heart,” Miles said.
Kurt Fackler, the former chairman of the county Republican Party, also said he supported the efforts to re-examine some election results while saying that the violence on display at the Capitol was wrong.
Tom Horne, a former candidate for Congress who ran as a Republican against McMorris Rodgers, said that protesters shouldn’t have forced their way in. But he also said he would withhold judgment on those who did and who they speak for, and also that he supported efforts to challenge the election.
“They ought to demonstrate and clean their mess like they usually do,” Horne said.
Danny Selle, a Spokane supporter of Trump, said he watched the speech the president gave before people began storming the Capitol building Wednesday afternoon. He said he didn’t believe Trump intended to incite people to violence.
“He was fuming, and he’s still fuming. I disagree with what he did, to a certain extent, but he was honest about it,” Selle said. “I’ve come to respect the man. I don’t think he intended for this to happen.”
Caleb Heimlich, chair of the Washington Republican Party, tweeted that the events at the Capitol were “unfathomable.”
“I never thought I would see something like this in the greatest country in the history of the world,” Heimlich tweeted.
Local Democrats linked the events Wednesday to the spurious claims and provocative rhetoric employed by many Republicans.
“The onus is on people like Cathy McMorris Rodgers to refute those very claims she is perpetuating,” said Spokane County Democrats Chair Nicole Bishop,” “Now is time to say this was a fair election. We need to accept the results, move on and accept that Joe Biden is our president elect.”
Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, said in a statement Wednesday’s events are a culmination of four years of “dangerous, anti-democratic rhetoric” and said there has been similar problems with extremism in the state of Washington that Republican leaders have failed to censure.
“We’ve seen repeated instances of the embrace of this kind of extremist violence among the WA GOP, who have failed time and time again to condemn that behavior,” she said.
Chairwoman of the Idaho Democratic Party Van Beechler also released a statement Wednesday, saying the Republican leaders who have gone along with efforts to cast doubt on the election have prioritized political power over democracy.
“Because our Republican leaders in Washington have encouraged and refused to stand up to President Trump’s deliberate attack on the Constitution and the legitimacy of our elections, they are responsible for the unrest that is occurring,” she said.” Congressman Russ Fulcher, Congressman Mike Simpson, Senator Jim Risch and Senator Mike Crapo all share responsibility for today’s events, along with every Republican official who chose to prioritize political power over preserving our democracy.”
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