Roman Jimenez has resigned from his position as chairman of the Doña Ana County Republican Party, the group announced Tuesday in a Facebook post.
Victor Contreras, a longtime GOP activist, will serve as interim chairman “until the county central committee convenes a meeting to elect a new chairperson,” the post states.
Calls for Jimenez’s resignation had been growing because of a Sunday Facebook post in which he said “violent, leftist protesters” were “getting exactly what they asked for” a day after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent, leaving one person dead and dozens injured. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M. and a candidate for governor, was among those who said Jimenez needed to step down.
“Regardless of differences, Americans must treat each other with respect. The chairman’s actions cannot go unaddressed. He should step down,” The Santa Fe New Mexican quoted Pearce as saying.
The Las Cruces Sun-News editorial board agreed. So did one of the few elected Republicans in Las Cruces, City Councilor Ceil Levatino. “There are no words strong enough to express my outrage, disgust and disappointment at the comments made by the chair of the Republican Party of Doña Ana County,” Levatino said.
The criticism started immediately after the county GOP posted Jimenez’s statement on Sunday afternoon. In response to the firestorm, the county GOP wrote in a Facebook comment that Jimenez’s post wasn’t about the events in Charlottesville. In another comment, the party wrote, “Of course I condemn white supremacists and any associated violence.” The post was deleted moments later.
Jimenez told KOB-TV in Albuquerque he didn’t know about the violence in Charlottesville when his statement was posted.
At Saturday’s white nationalist rally, Heather D. Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters. James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio, 20, has been charged in the attack.
On Tuesday, Contreras, now the Doña Ana County GOP’s interim chair, offered condolences to Heyer’s family.
“I, along with the Republican Party of Doña Ana County take a bold stance against all the extreme acts of violence, racism and hate that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Contreras said in the group’s Facebook post. “We believe there is no room for bigotry, racism or hate in our country.”
Contreras pledged to “uphold the very values that so many Americans have fought and given their lives for. Regardless of race, creed or religion, we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Facebook post announcing Jimenez’s resignation included no apology from Jimenez or the county GOP for his Sunday statement.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico didn’t stop hammering the county GOP after Jimenez’s resignation.
“The difference between Democrats and Republicans couldn’t be more clear. While the New Mexico GOP was managing the fact that their official posted blatantly racist rhetoric, New Mexico Democrats were attending vigils, condemning violence and taking a stand against bigotry,” the party said in a statement. “This resignation is good news, but it by no means changes the fact that hate and racism exists in the Republican Party.”
This article has been updated.