Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives who made gripping testimony earlier this summer before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, lost his bid for a seat in the state Senate to one on Tuesday Candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, NBC news projected.
Armed with Trump’s endorsement, former state senator David Farnsworth held a more than 20-point lead over Bowers in their bid for Arizona’s 10th district as of 1:15 p.m. ET.
Bowers, who testified before the committee about the efforts of Trump and his allies to get him to overturn his state’s 2020 election, told NBC News last month it will be difficult for him to secure a victory in his Senate race .
“It’s so hostile,” Bowers said of the political environment in a phone interview at the time, noting the overwhelming pro-Trump preference of his Senate district, Arizona’s 10th Circuit. “If I pull this off, it will be a miracle.”
Just weeks after Bowers testified, the Arizona Republican Party reprimanded him, saying he had “proved his incompetence to serve the Arizona Republican Party platform and the will of the electorate of the Arizona Republican Party” and urged voters “to oust him for good”.
It is highly unusual for a state party to make such a statement before a contested area code.
Trump attacked Bowers on his platform Truth Social on Monday. Write: “Remember, Arizona, your so-called ‘speaker’, Rusty (a fitting name because he’s Rusty, just like steel rusts and weakens) Bowers is absolutely awful.”
He urged Arizonans to “vote him out!”
Bowers, who served a total of 17 years between the Arizona State House and Senate, received this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his handling of the post-election period. His race served as the first, and possibly only, test this cycle of whether a Republican can publicly cross Trump before the Jan. 6 panel and still win a GOP primary — one that took place when Bowers’ testimony was still fresh in voters’ minds memory was.
Weeks ago, conservative lawmakers told the committee they knew Trump and his allies were making unconstitutional efforts to try to get him to invalidate his state’s 2020 election, which President Joe Biden narrowly conducted.
“It is a tenet of my belief that the Constitution is divinely inspired, that that is my most fundamental belief,” Bowers, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the committee. “The fact that I’m doing this because someone just asked me to is actually alien to me; I will not do it.”
Speaking to NBC News, Bowers described the reaction to his statement as mixed in his district.
“It’s been good among my friends and people I know personally in the district,” he said. “But in general it is not considered good. It was: ‘There you go. The traitor.'”
He also said he disagreed with people who told him his decision to testify took courage.
“I don’t see that I have anything brave like Don Quixote [moment]. Maybe it is, but certainly not Joan of Arc,” Bowers said. “But I did what I had to do. I knew there could be consequences, and in some cases I knew it would end relationships. But I have to tell the truth. That’s it. Nothing else beyond that.”
Soon after Bowers’ public testimony, Trump offered a full-bodied endorsement to Farnsworth.
Bowers described Farnsworth as a backbencher who “did exactly zero” while previously serving in the state Senate for eight years.
The Speaker of the House promoted legislative gains from his last term, including overseeing the passage of a budget package with bipartisan support and legislation designed to bring new water sources to the state — one in which environmental issues play a big role.
Farnsworth prominently touted his Trump endorsementwhile at the same time claiming to be the best candidate to overtake inflation, border migration and elections.
When asked what a Farnsworth win would say about the state of the party, Bowers said, “It says that Mr. Trump has a very, I would almost call it, a cult attraction.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2022-election/rusty-bowers-jan-6-committee-star-witness-loses-gop-primary-arizona-rcna40647 Rusty Bowers, a star Jan. 6 committee witness, loses the Arizona GOP primary