Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin has again stirred an outcry over his fiery political rhetoric — this time for saying certain Democratic governors should be executed for treason.
Griffin, who founded the group Cowboys for Trump, also told the Daily Beast on Tuesday that anti-lockdown protesters might be justified in using violence.
During the interview, published Wednesday, Griffin said top Democrats, such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, are traitors who deserve the death penalty. Both governors have imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“You get to pick your poison: You either go before a firing squad, or you get the end of the rope,” Griffin told the Daily Beast.
He was asked if people protesting pandemic-related shutdowns are increasingly considering violence.
“I’ll tell you what, partner, as far as I’m concerned, there’s not an option that’s not on the table,” Griffin replied.
Griffin again insisted he was speaking politically, not literally, when he said last week at a church in Truth or Consequences that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”
He repeated the comment in Tuesday’s interview just before calling for Democratic leaders to be executed, the Daily Beast said.
“Violent speech like this has no place in New Mexico politics,” Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwoman Marg Elliston said in a statement Wednesday.“The silence from New Mexico Republican officials is deafening and implies their tacit approval of Commissioner Griffin’s behavior.”
Every Republican candidate and elected leader should condemn Griffin’s actions “unequivocally, and Griffin should resign his post,” Elliston said.
Mike Curtis, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, said the GOP had nothing to add to its response to Griffin’s earlier “dead Democrat” comment, in which it condemned the language.
“Republican Party of New Mexico wants to state for the record that any statements, whether in jest or serious about harming another individual are just plain wrong,” the party said in its statement last week.
State Democratic Party spokeswoman Miranda Van Dijk called GOP’s statement a weak response.
“They’re not calling him out at all,” she said.
Griffin has a record of making inflammatory remarks that call for violence against Democrats, Van Dijk said.
In a video posted on Twitter earlier this month, Griffin complained of being barred entry to a Walmart because he had no face mask.
“It might be a lead up to a civil war,” Griffin said in the video. “And if we do have a civil war over this, maybe that’s gonna be the uniforms. Maybe one of the uniforms will have masks on and the other ones won’t.”
Years before being elected Otero County commissioner, Griffin was a traveling street preacher who rode a horse to draw a crowd. He still attends some events on horseback.
And the fiery oratory style he once plied as a preacher he now uses for political rhetoric. Critics say he takes violent imagery too far in his speech.
In an interview last week with New Mexican columnist Milan Simonich, Griffin defended himself, saying, “I’m the target of lies and slander, horrible slander. There’s no uproar from the left over that.”