GOP county chairman deletes image calling wildfires ‘God’s punishment to liberal California’
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An Ohio GOP county chairman has deleted a social media post that implied the wildfires ravaging California were "God's punishment" for the "liberal" state. 

Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson told Cleveland.com on Monday that he posted the image to his Facebook page after reading an article about the fires. While he said he believes Democrats have poorly managed California's forests, he added that he did not mean to insult anyone by sharing the image. 

“Look, that’s a meme," Johnson told the news outlet. "And it’s how I feel about liberals, but did I mean that God is going to punish everyone who lives in California? No. It’s a figure of speech, and I probably shouldn’t have done it.

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"But I did, and it doesn’t change how I feel about what’s happened in California.” 

The news outlet notes that Johnson is a member of Ohio Republican Party’s central committee and served as a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. 

His Facebook post, which features a blazing forest fire and the messages "God's Punishment to Liberal California" and "Hell on Earth, brought to you by the Liberals in California," led to swift backlash.

Wildfires in both northern and southern California have destroyed more than 10,000 homes and have ravaged the regions. At least 79 people had reportedly died as of Monday.

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras condemned the post. In a statement on the Mahoning County Democrats' Facebook page, Betras called on Johnson to resign and apologize to those impacted by the fires. 

“Johnson owes the victims, their families, and the heroes who fought the fire and participated in rescue efforts an apology,” Betras wrote. “In addition, I think his demented comments disqualify him from holding positions of public trust. He should, therefore, immediately resign from all the public positions he holds."

In addition to being a county chairman, Johnson serves on the Columbiana County Board of Elections and the board for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, according to Cleveland.com. 

The Hill has reached out to the Columbiana County Republican Party for further comment.