RAHWAY — A longtime Democratic operative from Union County has responded to the Wednesday shooting of a congressman by calling for a “hunt” of Republicans.

James Devine posted several messages on Facebook and Twitter following the Alexandra, Virginia, shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and several others by a gunman with a history of violence and of making online rantings against Republican officials and their policies.

“We are in a war with selfish, foolish & narcissistic rich people. Why is it a shock when things turn violent?” Devine posted on social media, ending the message with the hashtag: #HuntRepublicanCongressmen

Devine used the hashtag #HuntRepublicans in another message about Scalise speaking at a event hosted by a group founded by racist David Duke.

“I have little sympathy for the Republican Congressman who got shot today because he viciously opposed President Obama's effort to reduce gun violence and instead, he accepted more gun lobby money than all but 15 other members of the House of Representatives.”

James Devine via Facebook
James Devine via Facebook

The comments drew criticism from others who follow Devine on Facebook and Twitter.

Devine, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

His website notes that he has been working on Democratic campaigns for three decades. Among the elected officials he has worked for are Carteret Mayor Dan Reiman, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz, former Rahway Mayor James Kennedy and former Hillside Mayor Joseph Menza.

In 2014, he ran against now-Mayor Sampson Steinman in his hometown of Rahway.

His partner, Lisa McCormick, this year raised money for an abortive campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, but she dropped out before the June primary after not submitting a nominating petition with 1,000 signatures.

Union County Democratic Chairman Jerry Green on Thursday condemned the comments after a reporter read them to him.

“In this day and age, we have to be very careful in what we say or how we say it,” Green said. “I do not support the hunting of any people — Democrat or Republican.”

“I’ve had Republican friends that I have developed over the 25-plus years in Trenton. I consider them to be good human beings,” said Green, who is an assemblyman from Plainfield.

Scalise on Thursday remained in critical condition after undergoing a third surgery.

As when U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, Wednesday’s shooting has drawn attention to heated and divisive political rhetoric.

The gunman, 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, who was shot and killed by police, left a trail of online comments excoriating Republicans.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi chastised "sanctimonious" Republicans for suggesting that rhetoric from liberals and progressives in the wake of President Donald Trump's election may have been partially responsible for the shooting.

"How dare they say such a thing, how dare they,” said Pelosi, who noted that she’s been getting calls to her home and has been the target of attack ads in her latest re-election campaign.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5.

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