Over the weekend, Republican congressional candidate Gary Kiehne, who is one of three candidates in the GOP primary that will decide who will face incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick this November, repeated a right-wing Internet myth about mass shooters and Democrats.
Becky Pallack of the Arizona Daily Star reported that Kiehne made the comment at a forum with fellow GOP candidate Adam Kwasman:
When it comes to mass shootings, “if you look at all the fiascos that have occurred, 99 percent of them have been by Democrats pulling their guns out and shooting people,” Kiehne said to an audience of about 60 people. “So I don’t think you have a problem with the Republicans.”
After the comment got widespread attention over the weekend via Politico, the HuffPost and other online sites, Kiehne apologized for getting his facts wrong. In a statement emailed to reporters today, Kiehne said:
This past weekend, I made a comment about the political affiliation of perpetrators of gun violence in the heat of a debate. I've since learned that the information that I based the comment off of was inaccurate and incorrect.
I've always believed that when you make a mistake, you should own up to it. Too many politicians today offer nothing but spin and excuses when they say something they shouldn't have. I'm not going to do that. Simply put, I shouldn't have made the comment, and I want to offer my apology for making it without any reservations.
Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, one of the other two candidates in the race, today called on Kiehne to quit the race:
With his pattern of bizarre and deeply offensive remarks, Gary Kiehne has illustrated that he lacks the temperament, character and basic common sense to not only represent Arizona in Congress, but to even get elected. He should exit this race immediately and apologize in full for all of his remarks, not just some of them. To win this district and win against the Democrats in Washington, we need a candidate with a level head — which Mr. Kiehne clearly doesn’t have based on his numerous comments. This is a pattern, and Mr. Kiehne’s own partial apology is acknowledgment of the toxicity of these comments. Suggesting that mass killings are party affiliated is beyond the pale and insulting to the families and victims of these senseless killings. All of this raises the question: What other incendiary remarks has Mr. Kiehne made on tape that Democrats are waiting to release if he’s the nominee?
I have every confidence that Republican voters will reject such an offensive candidate. But, if he somehow wins the nomination, Mr. Kiehne will not only ensure Ann Kirkpatrick’s re-election, but he will be an anchor around the neck of every other Republican candidate in the state, from Governor on down.
UPDATED: Kiehne responds to Tobin's call for him to exit the race:
I think you can learn a lot about candidates and their integrity by how they respond in tough moments.
Unlike Andy Tobin who, when caught red-handed violating state law in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, offered up nothing but weak excuses for his behavior, I’ve always believed that you should own up to your mistakes.
I’m confident, that when given a choice, the voters would rather have a candidate with the integrity to admit he made a mistake, than a scandal-plagued, carpet bagging, political insider who to this day sees nothing wrong with taking an illegal out of state junket to a football game in the Fiesta Bowl scandal and even after getting caught continued to arrogantly take special interest freebies.
Kiehne talked one-on-one with me on Friday's AZ Illustrated Politics before he made his comments on mass shooters.