The arid West Texas community of Lubbock found itself in the national spotlight after a county judge asserted on television that if President Barack Obama is reelected, the country will be under threat of invasion by the United Nations and should brace for a possible civil war.
The comments, made by Lubbock County Judge Thomas Head in a bid to raise local property taxes, have prompted Democrats to call for his resignation. They’ve also generated a busy, and awkward, week for some local Republicans.
"It’s been a weird week," said Carl Tepper, chairman of the Lubbock County Republican Party, who has been deluged by calls from around the country.
"I don’t agree with the tax raise. I don’t agree that the U.N. is invading the U.S. I’m not a conspiracy theorist," Tepper told NBC News Friday. "The great majority of Lubbock, Texas, does not agree with Judge Head on this issue."
The furor started on Tuesday evening when Head appeared on a local Fox television station to drum up support for a 1.7 percent tax increase to bolster the county budget. Head’s comments veered into his concerns about civil unrest in the event of Obama’s election to a second term.
"He’s going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N., and what is going to happen when that happens?" Head said. "I’m thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy."
"Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County. OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say, 'You’re not coming in here'."
On Wednesday, Head said his remarks were taken out of context, and he meant them as a worst-case scenario, according toa report in Lubbock Avalanche Journal.
He did not respond to NBC calls for comment.
At a news conference on Thursday, Kenny Ketner, chairman of the Lubbock County Democratic Party charged that Head’s impartiality as a judge had been violated as a result of the comments, according to the Journal report.
"Public officials have greater responsibility not to spout off about conspiracies and extremist fantasies," Ketner said.
"Judge Head’s statements on the United Nations invasion raise serious questions about his mental competency to hold elected office," according to the Texas state Democratic chair Gilberto Hinojosa, cited by a report in the Houston Chronicle.
Head’s comment is "not only ridiculous, it’s dangerous. It’s crystal clear that Judge Head should resign," Hinojosa added.
Head's is an elected county judge; his position is not slated for a vote until 2014.
Tepper, of the Lubbock Republican Party, said he does not expect efforts for Head’s removal to gain any traction.
He said that while most people disagree with Head’s comments, there are concerns about federal policies that affect Lubbock, a community 300 miles west of Dallas that relies heavily on ranching and oil.
"I have had a lot of people who are concerned with the Obama administration and their national environmental agendas," said Tepper. "This is an energy part of the country. When drilling is limited (by regulations) and the use of coal is limited, that is of great concern to the voters and the people of West Texas."
But he said Lubbock, Texas, was really "Lubbock, America," a nice family oriented community that has oil, cotton and cowboys, as well as sophistication and a diverse set of views.
"We are very conservative, but I want to stress we have respect for the president, and for the federal government," Tepper said. "If we don’t like the president, we will try to beat him in the voting booth."
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