A local Republican Party office in Hudson, Wis., is drawing criticism for urging people to "prepare for war" in a message posted on its homepage.
The St. Croix County Republican message was posted before last week's insurrection in Washington that left five dead, but its reference to conflict, warriors and a fight to preserve the Republic has struck even the statewide Republican Party as tone-deaf and inappropriate.
"Especially in light of recent events, it's an ill chosen phrase to express their sentiments," said Wisconsin state Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt in a statement. "We don't dictate what local parties do as you know and they make their own decisions. We suggested at an earlier date they remove this, but they declined to take our advice."
An effort to reach St. Croix County Republican Party Chairman John Kraft was not successful Tuesday morning, but Kraft told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he planned to keep the message up, adding that he "can't help what twisted inferences local Democrats choose to attribute to it."
Starting with a Latin phrase for "If you want peace, prepare for war," the message references "the digital battlefield" before saying the "Marxist left and a complicit mass media" worked to overturn the 2016 election "through any means necessary." Democrats used "chaos" and "every dirty trick imaginable," the message continues.
Outgoing St. Croix County Democratic Party Co-chairwoman Danielle Johnson said the message does not reflect the opinion of Republicans she knows.
"These are not the values that represent the way people feel about their neighbors here in St. Croix County," she said. Johnson said that her state senator, Republican Rob Stafsholt, is also her neighbor. "Before COVID we would frequent the same kind of restaurants and places," she said.
"I am shocked and disheartened by the tone of the message," St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said in a Facebook post, adding that he "strongly condemns" the urging of residents to prepare for war.
On Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported that the FBI has credible evidence of a threat of violence on Sunday specifically aimed at the Minnesota Capitol. The evidence was spelled out in a Dec. 29 report written by the FBI's Minneapolis division. Other threats uncovered by the FBI have led to warnings for other capitols across the nation.