Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers Loses State Senate Bid
PHOENIX — Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers lost his bid for a state Senate seat after refusing calls from then-President Donald Trump to help overturn the results of the 2020 election and to testify before Congress about the efforts.
Bowers attempted to advance to the state Senate due to term limits. He lost to former state senator David Farnsworth, who criticized him for refusing to help Trump or agree to a controversial 2021 “audit” that Senate Republican leaders commissioned.
Farnsworth will automatically win the Senate seat because no Democrats are running in the heavily Republican district.
Bowers faced an uphill battle in Phoenix’s eastern suburb of Mesa, particularly after the state’s Republican Party censored him following his June testimony before the panel investigating the attack. of January 6, 2021 against Congress and Trump endorsed Farnsworth.
“I’m well aware that I’m very suspicious,” Bowers told The Associated Press ahead of the election. “My neighborhood is a very Trump neighborhood, and who knows how this is all going to turn out.
“And if that doesn’t work, great, I’d do it the same way again,” Bowers said.
Trump pressured Bowers to help him come up with a plan to replace voters committed to current President Joe Biden in a phone call weeks after Trump lost the 2020 election. Bower has refused.
Bowers insisted on seeing evidence of Trump voter fraud, which he said Trump’s team had never produced beyond vague allegations. He recalled that Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, later told him, “We have a lot of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”
Bowers is a conservative Republican, but Farnsworth said he was not conservative enough and has been less so since becoming president after the 2018 election.
“Of course the big issue, I think, for everyone is the fact that I strongly believe there was fraud in the 2020 election,” Farnsworth said in an interview last week. “And I feel like Rusty has failed to live up to his responsibilities as Speaker of the House and lean into this election.”
The Farnsworth-Bowers battle was one of many preparations involving current or former Arizona lawmakers.
In another eastern suburbs district, GOP Sen. Tyler Pace was trailing his challenger after an outside group targeted him and Bowers.
The redistricting put two state senators supporting Trump, Kelly Townsend and Wendy Rogers, in the same district. Rogers was leading in early returns, but the run was too early to be announced.
It featured bitter recriminations as Rogers faced repeated ethics charges for his inflammatory rhetoric, support for white supremacists and conspiracy theory-laden tweets.
Townsend said she felt compelled to run against Rogers when she refused to refute white nationalism after speaking at a conference in Florida in February.
“If I don’t show up against her and make that statement, win, lose or draw, then her actions become our actions,” Townsend said Monday. “It kind of ruins the whole (Republican) party.”
Rogers has won a national following, raising $3 million from donors across the country since taking office in early 2021. Townsend had raised around $15,000, much more typical for a state legislative race.
In suburban west Phoenix, former Rep. Anthony Kern, who attended Trump’s Jan. 6 rally that led to the attack on Congress and unsuccessfully sued Democrats who asked the Justice Department to investigating him, directed his efforts to return to the Legislative Assembly. . He was defeated in his 2020 House primary and is now aiming for a Senate seat. If his solid lead holds, he will have it, since no Democrats are running.
Former Rep. Steve Montenegro, whose 2018 congressional bid was rocked by a sexting scandal, is also trying to get back into politics. He was leading among four Republicans vying in a district west of Phoenix House for two Open House seats.
Democratic Representatives Diego Espinoza and Richard Andrade square off after being dragged into the same neighborhood in suburban western Phoenix, with Andrade holding a slight lead in a race too close to be called. And Sen. Lela Alston, considered the most experienced legislator in the Legislative Assembly, was well ahead of two challengers in her central district of Phoenix. One of them, political stranger Al Jones, attracted attention by buying up billboards all over town.