Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – A top Republican Party official in New Mexico’s second-most populous county stepped down Tuesday, two days after making social media comments about “violent, leftist protesters” that sparked outrage.
The Doña Ana County Republican Party announced on Facebook that it has accepted the resignation of its former chairman, Roman Jimenez, who had previously said the comments were taken out of context.
The county party’s new interim chairman, Victor Contreras, said Tuesday that he and other county party officials stand in opposition to acts of violence and racism that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., when a large group of white nationalists gathered to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Contreras also offered condolences to the family of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old who was killed Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the white nationalist rally.
“We believe there is no room for bigotry, racism or hate in our country,” Contreras said in a statement.
Jimenez’s original social media post had received national attention and drawn condemnation from the New Mexico Republican Party and other GOP officials, some of whom called on him to resign.
In the post, Jimenez wrote that “violent, leftist protesters” were “getting exactly what they asked for.”
“The white ones have been taught to hate their color, the women are taught to hate men, black and minorities want to kill whites and police,” he wrote.
Jimenez, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, told the Journal on Sunday that the post had been taken out of context, but he did not answer additional questions. In a subsequent post, the county party claimed the original message was not specifically directed at the Charlottesville events.
However, Rep. Steve Pearce, who is the only Republican member of New Mexico’s congressional delegation and is seeking his party’s nomination for governor, said Tuesday that Jimenez was “right” to step down from his county party position.
“Roman’s post was unacceptable,” said Pearce, who represents the southern New Mexico-based 2nd Congressional District. “Regardless of differences, Americans must treat each other with respect. His actions could not go unaddressed.”
Two-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said earlier this week that she condemned the comments.
Anti-racism rallies and vigils were held in several New Mexico cities – including Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces – after the weekend events in Virginia.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico said in a Tuesday statement that the controversial social media post highlighted differences between the state’s two largest political parties. “The resignation is good news, but it by no means changes the fact that hate and racism exists in the Republican Party,” the Democratic Party said in its statement.
Jimenez is a retired New Mexico State Police captain who now works for a private security firm, according to the company’s website. He also said in an online biography that he had served as a member of Martinez’s security detail.
In a February interview with the Las Cruces Bulletin, he praised both Martin Luther King Jr. and President Donald Trump, saying the president has “emboldened people to speak their minds a little bit more.”
Doña Ana County has become increasingly Democratic-leaning in recent years. Of the 13 state legislators who represent districts encompassing all or parts of Doña Ana County, two are Republicans and 11 are Democrats.