State GOP official resigns over Hillary Clinton comment


LITTLE ROCK — The state Republican Party’s 2nd District chairman resigned Wednesday after being quoted as saying Hillary Clinton might “get shot” if she campaigns for president in Arkansas.

U.S. News reported Tuesday that when Johnny Rhoda was asked about the level of support Clinton would receive in Arkansas if she runs for president, Rhoda said, “She’d probably get shot at the state line. Nobody has any affection for her. The majority don’t.”

In a statement Wednesday announcing the resignation, state Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb said Rhoda “was apologetic for the statements he made to media yesterday and although he feels he was taken out of context, he knows that his statements have created an unnecessary distraction from the important issues before the state today.

“Johnny has been active in this party for decades and all members of the Republican Party sincerely thank him for his service. I have accepted his resignation, which is effective immediately,” Webb said.

Rhoda is an insurance agent with an office in Clinton. A worker at his office referred questions Wednesday to state Republican Party spokeswoman Holly Wilson, who did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

John Burkhalter, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, had used Rhoda’s comment to take a swipe at 2nd District U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. In a news release issued Tuesday night, Burkhalter spokeswoman Mariah Hatta noted that in 2010 Griffin named Rhoda the Van Buren County chairman for his congressional campaign.

“Congressman Griffin may be used to these tactics, but we call on him to immediately denounce the statement, and relieve Mr. Rhoda from any official role in his campaign, and issue an unequivocal apology,” Hatta said.

Griffin responded in a statement Wednesday that Rhoda is not associated with his campaign for lieutenant governor and said Rhoda’s comment “is obviously inappropriate, offensive and shows poor judgment.”

“Mr. Rhoda’s decision to resign from his position with the Arkansas Republican Party is the right one for him, the party and Arkansas,” Griffin said.