Jax Protesters Call For Rutherford To Step Down Following His Vote To Challenge Election

Jan 7, 2021

Jacksonville-area Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford has now recognized Joe Biden as the president-elect after being part of the group of Republicans who late Wednesday night objected to two states' election results, hours after pro-Trump extremists had stormed the Capitol and forced the Electoral College certification process to be halted Wednesday.

Rep. John Rutherford 2018 file photo

Thursday morning, Rutherford tweeted:

“Our constitutional process of debating the state electors is now complete and Joe Biden is certified as the next President of the United States. Congratulations to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. I pray for them as they lead our great country.”

But that wasn’t enough to placate a group of local protesters who descended on Rutherford’s Jacksonville office Thursday afternoon, calling on him to resign.

“Rutherford ignored the will of the people here. He signed on to this craziness. And he and all the other...representatives and senators who are backing Trump are culpable for these four deaths and this insurrection that happened yesterday. He’s disgraced his office. He needs to step down,” said organizer Kevin Conner.

Wednesday as the violence in Washington unfolded, Rutherford tweeted: “The lawlessness taking place here in our nation’s capital is unacceptable and un-American. You cannot say you stand for law and order and then act this way.”

Mary Ann Cordray of St. Augustine was among those protesting outside of Rep. John Rutherford's Jacksonville office Thursday.
Credit Michelle Corum / WJCT News

Earlier Wednesday, he had defended his position objecting to declaring Biden the winner, writing: “Objecting to state electors is not undemocratic; it’s part of a specific checks and balances process outlined in federal law and our constitution. If state executive branch leaders violated their own election laws, then that’s fraudulent. Congress should not allow it.”

The Republicans objected to the Arizona and Pennsylvania results based on President Trump's oft-repeated claims of "massive election fraud," without evidence, and after dozens of court challenges by Trump's campaign had failed.

Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' victory in the early morning hours Thursday, the end of a long day and night marked by chaos, death and violence in Washington. Extremists emboldened by President Trump had sought to thwart the peaceful transfer of power that has been a hallmark of modern American history by staging a violent insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol.

Among the mob who stormed the Capitol was a woman who was killed by a Capitol Police officer. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said three other fatalities — one adult female and two males — resulted from apparent "separate medical emergencies."

Dozens of Republican House lawmakers, along with some Republican senators supportive of President Trump, had planned to object Wednesday to the electoral votes of as many as six states that backed Biden. Following the violent intrusion by the mob, several walked back their initial objections, but not Rutherford.

Dozens of protesters descended on Rep. John Rutherford's Jacksonville office Thursday afternoon.
Credit Michelle Corum / WJCT News

Florida’s two U.S. senators, Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, split their votes on objections to state election results. The Orlando Sentinel reported Rubio voted no to challenging both Arizona and Pennsylvania's results. Scott was one of seven senators who voted yes on the Pennsylvania challenge.

Each objection required the backing of a member of both the House and the Senate to be considered.

Here's more coverage of Wednesday's violent insurrection in Washington from NPR News.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Michelle Corum can be reached at mcorum@wjct.org, 904-358-6308 or on Twitter at @MCorumonME.