Police say they've identified two suspects who allegedly attacked two Republican candidates for Minnesota's state legislature over the past week - attacks that have helped justify President Trump's warning that the Democratic Party has become the "party of Mob Rule" in the wake of the widespread outrage and street demonstrations provoked by the confirmation of SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
According to the National Review, Republican state representative Sarah Anderson was punched in the arm last week after confronting a man who was vandalizing lawn signs promoting Republican candidates. Over the weekend, Shane Mekeland, a first-time Republican candidate, received a concussion after he was sucker punched while speaking with constituents at a restaurant in his assembly district.
Republican state representative Sarah Anderson
Anderson said she was terrified by her assailant, who only backed off when she climbed back in her car and drove away.
"It was just insane. He was charging at me, saying, 'Why don’t you go kill yourself?' To have someone physically coming after you and attacking you is just disheartening."
Charges against the suspects, who have not been publicly identified, will likely be filed in the coming days, according to local police. Meanwhile, Mekeland has continued to suffer memory loss and sensitivity to light stemming from the concussion he received during the assault.
"I was so overtaken by surprise and shock, and if this is the new norm, this is not what I signed up for," Mekeland said.
The attacks occurred in the days after the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party suspended a member of its communications staff for a week after he wrote in a Facebook post that Democrats would [bring Republicans] to the guillotine" during the upcoming midterm election, per the Washington Free Beacon.
Mekeland expressed disappointment with Democrats for not condemning his attacker and for not doing more to punish the communications staffer.
"He's a political staffer so you'd think if anybody should know boundaries, I think that'd be it," he said.
Republicans were outraged by the suspension, saying the candidate should have been fired, particularly after Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned his colleagues about using inflammatory and divisive rhetoric in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation vote.
"Only one side was happy to play host to this toxic fringe behavior," McConnell said Thursday, referencing the raucous protesters that descended on the Capitol during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. "Only one side’s leaders are now openly calling for more of it. They haven’t seen enough. They want more. And I’m afraid this is only Phase One of the meltdown."
McConnell's comments were inspired in part by Democratic lawmakers Corey Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand. Booker recently urged his constituents to 'get up in the face' of Republican politicians, while Gillibrand has derided the Trump agenda as 'evil'.
Senator Rand Paul has warned that statement's like Booker's could be taken to violent extremes by the mentally ill. Paul was present when an unhinged Bernie Sanders supporter opened fire last summer at a Congressional baseball practice, nearly killing House Whip Steve Scalise.
"I think what people need to realize, that when people like Cory Booker say, 'Get up in their face,' he may think that that’s OK," said Paul, who was present when Representative Steve Scalise (R., La.) was shot during a practice for the annual congressional baseball game last year. "But what he doesn’t realize is that for about every 1,000th person that might want to get up in your face, one of them is going to be unstable enough to commit violence."
Unfortunately, given the politically charged climate and Democrats desperate hopes for taking back the House and the Senate during the upcoming midterms, the US could experience another wave of violent attacks in the run-up to the vote, and another explosion of outrage if Republicans remain in control.