District Republican chairman: 'I don't want to take a bullet for anyone'

Fearing violence from tea party activists, Arizona Legislative District 20 Republican Chairman Anthony Miller and several others tendered their resignation this week following mass shootings that left six dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in critical condition.

Miller, a 43-year-old former campaign worker for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said that verbal attacks and blog posts from members of the tea party had him fearing for the safety of his family, according to a report in The Arizona Republic.

"Today my wife of 20 yrs ask (sic) me do I think that my PCs (Precinct Committee members) will shoot at our home?" he wrote in an e-mail following the shootings. "So with this being said I am stepping down from LD20GOP Chairman...I will make a full statement on Monday."

Tea party members supporting J.D. Hayworth for senator in the midterm elections accused Miller, an African American, of being a "McCain's boy." One detractor had even made his hand into the shape of a gun and pointed it at Miller.

"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."

District 20 Republican Secretary Sophia Johnson, first vice chairman Roger Dickinson, former district spokesman Jeff Kolb also followed Miller's lead and quit.

"This singular focus on 'getting' Anthony (Miller) was one of the main reasons I chose to resign," Kolb reportedly wrote to another party activist.

Arizona state Sen. John McComish, who had supported Miller as chairman, told the paper that this battle for local party leadership is more extreme than others he'd seen.

"It's too bad," McComish said. "He didn't deserve to be hounded out of office."

Kolb explained that Miller had been elected chairman even after Sheriff Joe Arpaio made a personal appearance for tea party candidate Thomas Morrissey.