Hunterdon County Republican Chairman Gabe Plumer sought to defend County Commissioner Susan Soloway to the county committee after her attendance at a rally that preceded President Donald Trumps’ supporters’ attack on the Capitol pushed Democrats to call for her resignation.
“Director Soloway peacefully attended this rally and then peacefully left it. These are the facts,” he said in an email to Hunterdon Republicans. “Democrats have called on Director Soloway to resign because of this. I contemplated not releasing a statement in response to these calls. I strongly believe that we shouldn’t allow hypercritics to drive the agenda.”
The New Jersey Globe first reported Soloway’s presence at the Trump rally. She told The Globe she attended the rally but left when the situation deteriorated, adding her group was “shocked, outraged, and frankly scared” as the crowd turned violent.
Hunterdon’s Democrats weren’t satisfied with that.
“Susan Soloway, by her own admission, was close enough to take videos of those unlawfully entering the U.S. Capital. Emphasis on multiple videos — she did not leave right away from her fear, but had time to take videos of the unlawful behavior,” Hunterdon Democratic Chairwoman Arlene Quiñones Perez told the New Jersey Globe Tuesday. “Her actions are undeniable wrong. On every level. And should be to everyone.”
In a post to the Hunterdon County Democratic Committee’s Facebook page, the party slammed Republicans for parroting the president’s unfounded claims of election fraud, urging supporters to condemn them and to call on Republicans to demand Soloway’s resignation.
“I am embarrassed and disappointed in my neighbors. Because make no mistake, these domestic terrorists are living next door to us, they are walking around in plain sight as doctors, CEO’s, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters,” the Democratic post said. “When is enough enough for the Republican Party? When do Republican elected officials stand up and say, ‘Donald Trump you do not represent me or my values.’”
Plumer took issue with the line on domestic terrorism, claiming he’d never met such residents in Hunterdon.
“The Democratic Chair and I obviously live in the same county and I believe the same township,” Plumer said. “I have to be honest — even though I’ve lived here for most of my life, I’m not familiar with the domestic terrorist part of town. This county is full of good people, with a multitude of opinions, seeking to build a better community for their families and neighbors. What an insulting and revealing statement.”
A later post, made on January 18, urged residents to attend Tuesday’s County Commissioner meeting to voice their complaints during its public portion, adding that “elected officials must be held responsible for their actions, especially, and certainly, when those actions lead to the death of a police officer.”
U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, a South Plainfield native, was hit with a fire extinguisher during the assault on Congress and later died in the hospital.
“To suggest that a person who peacefully attended a rally, who left when it became violent, and who submitted video to the FBI, is somehow responsible for a police officer’s death is unconscionable and dangerous,” Plumer said. “I struggle to find adequate words to respond to this. For a party that talks so much about healing, this is as divisive and hateful as you can possibly get.
Hunterdon residents heeded the call to attend Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. Republicans and Democrats showed up, some in-person and some virtually.
Their statements fell along predictable lines, with Republicans defending Soloway and Democrats slamming her for participating in what they said was a bid to overturn the results of the election and calling for her to resign.
Plumer ended his email on a more cordial note, becoming one of a still-small but growing group of prominent New Jersey Republicans who have accepted President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
“We will have a new President shortly and Joe Biden’s success as President is the country’s success. Let us all pray for him as he takes on the difficult, but important task of uniting us. Our country’s motto is E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. While we come from different backgrounds and hold varying political perspectives, let us never forget that we are all united in our love of this great country.”
In accepting Biden’s victory, Hunterdon’s chairs were on the same page.
“Over 81 million Americans voted for decency and civility by voting for Biden and Harris. We are united in understanding that everyone is worthy of representation, that our policies should reflect our principles,” Quiñones Perez said.