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Scared to Serve: Giffords Shooting Prompts GOP Resignations in AZ

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Just weeks after being elected to a new one-year term as one of Arizona Republican Party's district chairmen, 43-year-old Anthony Miller has resigned. His emailed resignation note to the state party chair was sent a few hours after Saturday's shooting massacre in Tucson that killed six and left 13 injured, including Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

"Today my wife of 20 yrs ask (sic) me do I think that my PCs (Precinct Committee members) will shoot at our home? So with this being said I am stepping down from LD20GOP Chairman...I will make a full statement on Monday," Miller's message read. The battle between factions in Miller's Legislative District 20 had made him worry for his family's safety and what happened on Saturday in Tucson confirmed his worst fears.

Miller's resignation prompted a number of other Republican officials to step down, including the district's secretary and first vice chairman. "This singular focus on 'getting Anthony was one of the main reasons I chose to resign," the former district spokesman says.

The Arizona Republic reports that the threatening rhetoric has come from divisions within the Republican Party:

After the election and around the December holiday season, some of Miller's detractors made an issue of the residency of Dickinson, the first vice-chairman. Dickinson, who did not return phone messages, was a supporter of Miller's and allegedly moved to a different precinct within Dist. 20 last year, making him ineligible for the leadership post. Miller said he told the critics he would handle the matter after the holidays. In the meantime, a series of accusatory e-mails was exchanged among party members. Some blasted Miller's support of McCain, called him a "McCainiac with a penchant for violating the rules" and a "McCain hack."

Miller said when he was a member of McCain's campaign staff last year has been criticized by the more conservative party members who supported Republican opponent J.D. Hayworth. The first and only African-American to hold the party's precinct chairmanship, Miller said he has been called "McCain's boy," and during the campaign saw a critic form his hand in the shape of a gun and point it at him.

"I wasn't going to resign but decided to quit after what happened Saturday," Miller said. "I love the Republican Party but I don't want to take a bullet for anyone."
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