HUDSON — The chairman of the St. Croix County Republican Party resigned Friday at the request of the group’s executive committee following a week of backlash over a website post titled with the Latin phrase for “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
John Kraft posted the controversial message to the local party’s website without consulting the committee, according to a news release Jan. 15. Committee members condemned the message and took credit for taking down the website, which went dark with no explanation earlier in the week.
“While we remain committed to forthright discussion of political ideas and differences, that discussion must be within the confines of civil discourse, without the perception of intimidation, accusation or threats,” St. Croix County GOP executive committee members said in a statement. “We oppose violence as a method to achieve political goals.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Daniel Bice, who was first to report the news of Kraft’s resignation Friday afternoon, brought attention to the website post on Jan. 11. The post was later condemned by St. Croix County Democrats, County Board and the county’s Republican sheriff, among others.
“After reading the comments on the St. Croix County Republican Party website in recent days, I am shocked and disheartened by the tone of the message,” Sheriff Scott Knudson wrote in a statement Tuesday.
Political rhetoric has come under increased scrutiny since the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump that temporarily delayed the counting of electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden and left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. The U.S. House of Representatives impeached the president Wednesday over Trump's alleged role in inciting the mob.
The message, titled with the Latin phrase “Si vis pacem para bellum,” stated, “It's time to stand and be counted as a conservative warrior in the on-going fight to preserve our Constitutional Republic.”
It was unclear when the message was posted, but it was sometime before violence broke out in the nation’s capital, according to media reports.
Kraft is a prominent conservative voice in the St. Croix Valley area. He was among three plaintiffs in a 2020 lawsuit to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency declarations and mask mandate.
Multiple attempts to contact Kraft this week were not successful.