Rep. Candice Keller is under fire after blaming mass shootings on "homosexual marriage" and "drag queen advocates" in a Facebook post. USA TODAY
Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer
COLUMBUS - Ohio Republican Party leader Jane Timken has called on Ohio state Rep. Candice Keller to resign from her seat after the lawmaker's "shocking" comments about Sunday's mass shooting in Dayton.
Keller, a Republican from Middletown, Ohio, posted on Facebook on Sunday comments that blamed "drag queen advocates," the Democratic Congress, former President Barack Obama, violent video games and the hatred of veterans for the deaths of nine people and the shooter in Dayton early Sunday.
Her comments drew the ire of Republicans and Democrats alike. And on Monday afternoon, Timken called for Keller's resignation.
“While our nation was in utter shock over the acts of violence in El Paso and Dayton, Republican State Representative Candice Keller took to social media to state why she thought these acts were happening," Timken said in a statement. "Candice Keller’s Facebook post was shocking and utterly unjustifiable. Our nation is reeling from these senseless acts of violence and public servants should be working to bring our communities together, not promoting divisiveness.”
Keller, who lives about 25 miles from Dayton, is running for an Ohio Senate seat currently held Sen. Bill Coley, who is term-limited. Her GOP challengers include Rep. George Lang and West Chester Township Trustee Lee Wong.
Timken has not spoken with Keller personally about the GOP leader's decision to ask for Keller's resignation, Ohio Republican Party spokesman Evan Machan said.
Keller responded to Timken's call with a statement: "Establishment moderates have never been fans of mine because I ran against their endorsement and won. As the only conservative in this race, I will be taking my Senate campaign to the voters to decide."
Timken's request was unusual for the chairwoman, who often avoids publicity and rarely gets in the middle of political fights. This is the first time Timken has called on an Ohio official to resign since she was chosen to lead the party in January 2017.
When former Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, was arrested after he had passed out at a McDonald's drive-thru, Timken offered a cautious statement: "If these allegations are true, Representative Retherford should resign from office.” Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones also called for Keller to resign on Monday.
"It’s very embarrassing. She doesn’t represent the people in her community with those comments," Jones told The Enquirer. "She’s made a laughingstock out of Butler County, which is a shame."