Members of Arizona’s congressional delegation were rattled by Wednesday’s events in Washington but are determined to reconvene this evening to finish the count of electoral ballots.
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” said Ron Barber, Southern Arizona director for Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.
He said Kelly was ushered off the Senate floor with colleagues “and taken to a safe location.”
“He is absolutely determined to get back into session tonight to finish,” said Barber, a former U.S. representative.
On Twitter, Kelly wrote, “In America, we have fair elections and peaceful transfers of power; democracy prevails over chaos; and those who commit violent acts are held accountable. That won’t change today. This unpatriotic attempt to overturn our election – and silence the voices of Arizonans – will fail.”
Protesters stormed the Capitol building as senators went through the process of certifying Electoral College votes. A woman died in the violence as protesters broke windows, occupied offices, took to the Senate floor and climbed onto statues.
Abigail O’Brien, an aide to U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, said at about 4 p.m. Arizona time that they were in a secure room with “no sense of when we will get out.” They had been there about two hours.
She said they had been evacuated from their office about 11:15 a.m. because of a suspicious package near the building then returned, only to be rushed out again. Four people were evacuated from the office, including Kirkpatrick and her husband.
“At this point, they’re going to reconvene the debate,” she said.
She said they came to work today “expecting noise” but having protesters enter the building was unexpected.
“You see the buildings you go into every day swarmed and attacked and it’s very jarring,” O’Brien said.
Shelley Kais, the newly elected chair of the Pima County Republicans, said the display in Washington was a bad ending to what everybody expected to be a tense day.
“It was interesting to see the Republicans stand up for the president when they arrived this morning. It was disappointing to see the events that ensued when they stormed the capitol,” she said.
“I do believe that people are angry about the outcome of the election,” Kais said. “But you have to go back to the root of this — people feel that their voice has not been heard. There are at least 40 million people who feel they have been disenfranchised.”
“We are in trouble in our country when they feel the only way they can be heard is to storm a capital building, or let’s go back a few months, tear down a statue or start a business on fire.”
Kais was attending a meeting of the Quail Creek Republican Club when reached by a reporter and said, “It’s a split room.”
“The discussion is across the whole spectrum as it will be at people’s kitchen tables tonight,” she said.
“Nobody likes what they saw and nobody likes the fact that somebody died today. And that’s what’s important, somebody died.”
She said she wouldn’t second-guess President Trump’s initial response, or lack thereof, to the protests.
“When we have situations like that they are changing minuted by minute and I’m sure he was getting good intel and responding accordingly,” she said.
“I don’t believe this is an issue about the Republican or Democratic Party, this is an issue about election integrity. This is the aggregate of years of anger and disappointment with elected officials.”
Kelly Ward, the state GOP chair, kept things partisan on Twitter: “You know what could have prevented this? #ElectionIntegrity and full transparent investigations into 2020 fraud. Audits, eyes on paper ballots, full audit of ALL digitally adjudicated and all duplicated ballots, full evaluation of Dominion machines. Remember: Democrats refused.”