Rusty Bowers (R) of Arizona, who gave emotional testimony describing former President Donald Trump’s efforts to sway the 2020 presidential election to the House Select Committee investigating the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol, was defeated Tuesday in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat by a Trump-backed candidate.
eatCurrent state Sen. David Farnsworth easily won the contest for the seat that represented areas east of Mesa. Bowers served in the state legislature for 17 years and is the speaker of the Arizona state House. Farnsworth had a lower profile in the state and less campaign money, but he had a powerful weapon: Trump’s support.
“Rusty Bowers is a RINO coward who went against the Republican Party in the all-partisan unselected committee of political thugs and hacks the other day and embarrassed himself and embarrassed the state of Arizona,” Trump said. declared at a rally in Prescott Valley last month, using the acronym “Republican in name only.” He approved Farnsworth on the Truth Social earlier in July, saying that Bowers should lose and that “the highly respected David Farnsworth is the man to do it.”
There were relatively few policy differences between the two men, other than their starkly different views on the 2020 election. Bowers’ defeat is another sign of the Republican Party’s journey toward a thoroughly anti-democratic entity willing to sidestep fair elections, fueled by a cult of personality entirely devoted to Trump and his political fortunes.
During a recent discussion, Farnsworth he said of the 2020 presidential election results: “This is a real conspiracy led by the devil himself.” He has also expressed positive views about QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory that keeps most Democrats in the lurch of a global network of pedophiles. “I’ve talked to a number of people who really think they’re good people who are trying to bring out the truth,” he said in text messages to a then-boyfriend who revealed the exchange in 2020.
Bowers immediately became the object of scorn among Trump-aligned conservatives when he testified before the House Select Committee in June. Officially the Arizona GOP Executive Committee criticized Bowers in July. “He is no longer a Republican in good standing and we call on Republicans to replace him at the polls in the August primary,” state party chairwoman Kelli Ward tweeted.
President Joe Biden won Arizona by only about 10,000 votes, making the state the immediate focus of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results. There is no evidence of substantial voter fraud, and subsequent Republican-backed audits found that Biden won the state by more than the original November tally.
Bowers told the committee on Jan. 6 that Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani launched a lobbying campaign immediately after the election, urging Bowers to use his powers as speaker of the House to replace Biden voters with Trump-loyal voters for to change the number of the Electoral College. During a phone call, Bowers said, he pressed the duo for evidence of voter fraud, but they provided none. “We have a lot of theories, but no evidence,” Giuliani finally admitted. according in Bowers’ testimony.
Bowers refused to play along and appeared to choke up when he explained to the committee why. “I will not play with laws that I swore allegiance to,” he said. “How else will I ever come close [God] in the wilderness of life, knowing that I ask for this guidance only to show myself a coward by defending the course that has led me?’
Democrats have not fielded a candidate in this heavily Republican district, so the November election will be a typical one for Farnsworth.