State Representative Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) is facing stiff competition for the Republican nomination for the state senate seat he is now running for, political watchers say, as the term-limited Arizona House Speaker campaigns against the well-known, Trump-endorsed former State Senator David Farnsworth to represent the people of the 10th Legislative District.

State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) warned that Bowers is a “career politician” who “will betray you repeatedly then lie to make you think they were on your side the whole time.” In a post on Telegram, he relayed a couple of his bad experiences in the Arizona Legislature with Bowers, while refuting Bowers’ new campaign ad.

Hoffman said, “In Rusty’s ad he claims ‘we passed new pro-life legislation’ yet fails to tell voters that he personally ensured the death of my motion to introduce a full ban on abortion on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned by SCOTUS. His actions to block my motion ensured tens of thousands of babies will die by abortion.”

He added, “Rusty also claims ‘we supported our police,’ yet fails to tell voters that he refused to support the AZ Backs the Blue Act, my bill that would’ve given every sworn police officer and sheriff’s deputy in AZ a $5,000 AZ Backs the Blue Bonus.”

Hoffman reserved his greatest ire for Bowers’ actions defeating election integrity bills. “Rusty Bowers was the single biggest obstacle to election integrity efforts in the Arizona legislature over the last two years,” he said. “Rusty deserves to lose.”

Bowers became nationally known after the 2020 election for repeatedly declaring that there was no election fraud in the Arizona presidential election. A recall petition was launched against him last year due to his refusal to call a special legislative session to audit the 2020 election for fraud. The Democrats invited him to testify about this to their House Select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2020 protest at the U.S. Capitol.

In February, wielding his powers as State House Speaker, Bowers defeated a bill from State Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) that would have given the legislature the power to decertify elections, by assigning it to too many committees. That same month he used a rare technical maneuver to kill a sweeping election integrity bill from State Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction). In May, some lawmakers criticized Bowers for “playing games” with election integrity bills to make conservative legislators look bad.

Bowers angered conservatives by sponsoring a bill known as the “transgender bathroom bill,” HB 2802, which would make sexual orientation and gender a protected class in Arizona. He was the only Senate Republican to vote no on HB 2294, which would have required only two genders to be listed on government documents. And in previous years, he sponsored a bill that would take sex offenders off the registry with victims as young as 15 years old.

One capitol insider told The Arizona Sun Times that Bowers tried to play it both ways with a bill to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants in 2021. Sponsored by State Rep. Michelle Udall (R-Mesa), Bowers pretended to dislike HCR 1044, promising House Republicans that he would strip Udall of her Education Committee chairmanship. He praised the Republicans who joined with Democrats to vote for it, but refrained from voting for it himself due to some personal infighting, the insider said. The measure will be on the 2022 ballot.

Bowers buried and killed HB 2597, which would have reinstated the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment and of silence in government schools. Instead, he promoted a Democratic version, HB 2707, that only had the moment of silence, and when a legislator tried to add an amendment including the Pledge of Allegiance, he voted against the addition.

Bowers continues to disparage former President Trump and the possibility there was election fraud. In an interview with The Deseret News this week, he said “Trump lies” and that the former president is “trying to undermine a basic institution of our governability, that is our ability to vote and have trust in it.” Bowers said he does not intend to vote for Trump in the presidential primary if he runs.

Hoffman has endorsed David Farnsworth instead in the race, who has also been endorsed by Donald Trump, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05), and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward. Farnsworth comes from a prominent Mormon family in Arizona, and previously served in the Arizona Legislature in 1995-96 and 2013-20. His relative Eddie Farnsworth served in the Arizona Legislature most of the years from 2001 through 2020. Eddie Farnsworth achieved a 95 rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU) and David Farnsworth has a 93. He lists “preserve and defend election integrity” as one of his key issues.

In contrast, Bowers has an 88 rating from the ACU. The Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona just issued its 2022 legislative ratings, and Bowers was one of the lowest-rated Republicans, receiving merely a 52.

Although Arizona legislators are term-limited, Bowers has been able to remain in office for almost 30 years by switching back and forth between the House and Senate. For his efforts stopping the Arizona Legislature from taking action against suspected fraud in the 2020 presidential election, he was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage. The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation also gave awards to others for similar work; Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Michigan Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Fulton County, Georgia, election worker Wandrea “Shaye” Moss.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.