Republicans furious with Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa), mainly over denying election fraud and blocking election integrity bills, voted him out of office earlier this month, choosing a Trump-endorsed candidate instead. He has been complaining about losing, telling The Guardian that Republican “fascists” voted him out.
State Representative Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) told The Arizona Sun Times that it’s Bowers who is really the fascist. “Bowers calling Republicans who were unhappy with his voting record and his leadership fascists is just another of many examples that Bowers has completely lost his mind and his principles,” she said. “Not re-electing a politician who doesn’t listen to the will of the people is at the very core of a representative Republic — it’s the exact opposite of fascism. When the government/dictator tells you what to do, that’s fascism — that’s how the House operated under Bowers. When the people tell their representatives what to do, that’s how a representative republic works. Rusty should go back to Civics 101, but probably not at ASU.”
She went on, “During his 18 years as a legislator the border crisis was not resolved and has gotten much, much worse; the water crisis has not resolved and has gotten worse; the government and spending has grown and is now back to a $1 billion deficit under Rusty’s leadership; the indoctrination camps known as government schools have gotten out of control with less accountability than before Bowers was in office. The well-being of Arizonans has diminished under Rusty’s leadership and he deserved to be fired. It has nothing to do with Trump – although he’s a favorite scapegoat of the weak and afraid – it has to do with Rusty running as a Republican while abandoning every single plank of the Republican platform and subsequently failing his constituents. Rusty himself has said, ‘If you don’t like it, don’t vote for me’ and LD-10 voters finally took his advice.”
Bowers lost by almost 30 points to former legislator David Farnsworth, who he was running against for Senate (Bowers was term-limited in the House).
During an interview with The Guardian about his massive loss, he said, “The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves — that to me is fascism.” Bowers was referring to voters being upset about a multifaceted election integrity bill he killed using a technical maneuver. Among other things, HB 2596 would have given the legislature the power to reject election results, allowing an elector to call for a new election.
Only three election integrity bills made it through the legislature this year (and one minor one), mostly due to Bowers blocking them in the House, and State Senator Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) blocking them in the Senate. Boyer chose not to run for re-election after he seeing polls indicating that he would lose due to angry voters.
Frustrated conservatives said Bowers engaged in “playing games” with election integrity bills. “This is sadly just another in a long list of examples of systematically failed leadership and near-total dysfunction in the House under Rusty Bowers,” State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), the only Arizona legislator to receive a perfect 100 score from the American Conservative Union last year, told The Sun Times.
During his interview, Bowers referred to Trump supporters as a “clown circus” and said they are engaging in “emotional violence.” About the Republican Party in Arizona, he said, “It’s a party that doesn’t have any thought. It’s all emotional, it’s all revenge. It’s all anger. That’s all it is.”
He went on, claiming it’s close to the end of civilization but not quite there since “I haven’t been hanged yet.” Bowers compared watching MAGA Republicans surge in the Republican Party to “being the first colonizer on Jupiter.”
Bowers said Republicans concerned about voter fraud are a danger to democracy; they “surrender the Constitution in order to win an election,” leaving “the Constitution hanging by a thread.” He claims he saw signs of this behavior before the 2020 election, when Republicans in the Arizona Legislature criticized COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. “It was like a prep show,” he said.
The lame duck State House Speaker – who testified to the Democrats’ January 6 committee in June about former President Donald Trump’s conversations with him immediately after the 2020 election – claimed there was no election fraud because “a demographic of women, 18 to 40, college-educated, professional, with small children” did not vote for Trump.
He said he investigated the ballot counting with the assistance of “trusted lawyers” and found no fraud. “I saw incredible amounts of protocols that were followed and signed off by volunteers — Democrats, Republicans, independents. Yes, Republicans, for crying out loud! And they did it by the book.”
In contrast, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich investigated the results of the independent Arizona Senate audit of the 2020 election and found “serious vulnerabilities that must be addressed and [which raise] questions about the 2020 election in Arizona.” These included “problematic system-wide issues that relate to early ballot handling and verification.” He said the signature verification system in place within Maricopa County is “insufficient to guard against abuse.” About 100,000 to 200,000 ballots lacked a chain of custody. “Maricopa County failed to follow critical procedures when transporting early ballots from drop locations to the election headquarters.”
Trump has sharply criticized Bowers. After Bowers testified to the Democrats’ January 6 committee in July, the former president told a crowd in Prescott, “Rusty Bowers, he’s a RINO coward who participated against the Republican Party in the totally partisan unselect committee of political thugs and hacks the other day, and disgraced himself, and he disgraced the state of Arizona.”
Bowers said he would never vote for Trump again during an interview with ABC’s “The Week,” prompting Trump to respond on Truth Social a few days before the primary election. “Remember Arizona, your so-called ‘Speaker,’ Rusty (an appropriate name because he is Rusty, just like steel gets rusty and weak) Bowers, is absolutely terrible,” Trump posted. “He is ‘weak’ and wrong on everything, including your horrible Open Border and pathetic election ‘counting.’ Vote him out!”
The Arizona Republican Party censured Bowers in July, calling him “unfit to serve the platform of the Republican Party and will of the voter of the Republican Party of Arizona.” MAGA patriots hope to elect State Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) next year as Speaker of the House. Chaplik will face off against more moderate House Majority Leader Ben Toma (R-Peoria) for the position in an election held the second week of November.
– – –
Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jacqueline Parker” by Jacqueline Parker. Photo “Rusty Bowers” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.