The Michigan Republican Party canceled a primary election celebration scheduled for Tuesday evening in Lansing after receiving multiple death threats and other promises of violence, a party spokesman said.
Gustavo Portela, the communications director for the Michigan Republican Party, said staff reported the threats to the Lansing Police Department.
Before cancelling, Michigan Republicans planned to celebrate their candidates Tuesday night at Kelly’s Downtown, an Irish pub on South Washington Square, Portela said. He expected roughly 100 people at the event, including state Republican legislators and party officials from the area.
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Threats included potential deadly attacks against staff members and the party headquarters on Seymour Avenue in Lansing. It escalated Tuesday morning with a man shouting at female staff members, threatening to shoot them while saying he “wanted to enslave women” and burn down the building.
“The female staffer that was verbally assaulted has worked at the party for 10 years and had never seen this type of violence,” Portela said.
Jordan Gulkis, a spokesperson for the Lansing Police Department, said the department responded to the incident at party headquarters around 7:42 a.m. this morning.
“When officers arrived the accused was not there. Lansing police officers maintained contact with someone from the address to make sure the accused did not return. All future shifts are notified to pay special attention to that area,” she said in a statement.
No arrests have been made, she said.
The primary election is a key moment for Michigan Republicans: the party is set to pick a nominee to take on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the fall. The race has grown increasingly heated, but the party is planning a unity event Wednesday with its endorsed candidates for attorney general and secretary of state. Portela said the event will proceed, but the party is hiring additional security.
The Michigan Democratic Party did not have a comparable event planned for Tuesday and has not received any recent threats, a spokeswoman said.
Several people appeared to mock Republicans in light of the news, implying GOP members like former President Donald Trump have incited threats in the past.
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“Never thought the leopards would eat *my* face,” tweeted Rodericka Applewhaite, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Democratic Party.
Portella blasted these and other comparable remarks.
“It’s unfortunate that members of the opposite party would seize on this and joke about the situation, but this is the type of politics they play now a days,” he said in a statement.
“Our party won’t be deterred, and we will continue to work tirelessly for Republican policies despite on-going threats. No type of violence against women should ever be tolerated.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has repeatedly said threats against elected officials are on the rise and condemned these acts. A spokeswoman said any threat “should absolutely be reported to local law enforcement and can also be reported to the Department of Attorney General.”
Contact Dave Boucher at [email protected] or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.