rusty arbors, the Republican Speaker of the Arizona House who gave a gripping testimony earlier this summer on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, lost his bid for a state Senate seat on Tuesday to a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump, according to NBC News.
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 a.m. ET.
Bowers, who testified before the committee about efforts by Trump and his allies to have him void the 2020 election in his state, told NBC News last month that it would be difficult for him to secure a victory in his race for the State Senate.
“It’s so hostile,” Bowers said of the political environment in a phone interview at the time, noting the overwhelming pro-Trump bias of his state Senate district, Arizona’s 10th. “If I succeed, it will be a miracle.”
Just weeks after Bowers’ testimony, the Arizona Republican Party censured him, saying he “has demonstrated that he is unfit to serve the platform of the Arizona Republican Party. and the will of the voter of the Republican Party in Arizona” and called on voters “to permanently remove him from office.
It is highly unusual for a state party to make such a proclamation ahead of a contested primary.
Trump attacked Bowers on his Truth Social platform on Monday, writing“Remember Arizona, your so-called ‘Speaker’, Rusty (an apt name because he’s rusty, just like steel gets rusty and weak) Bowers, is absolutely terrible.”
He called on Arizonans to “vote him out!”
Bowers, who served 17 years between the State House and the Arizona Senate, received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award this year for his handling of the post-election period. His run was the first and perhaps 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 came as Bowers’ testimony was still fresh in the minds of voters.
A few weeks ago, the conservative lawmaker told the committee he knew Trump and his allies were pursuing an unconstitutional effort trying to get him to invalidate his state’s 2020 election, which President Joe Biden narrowly carried.
“It is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired, that it is my most fundamental fundamental belief,” Bowers, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the committee. “And so for me to do this because someone just asked me to is alien to my very being; I won’t do it.”
Speaking to NBC News, Bowers described the response to her testimony in her district as mixed.
“Among my friends and people I personally know in the neighborhood, it’s been good,” he said. “But generally it’s not considered good. It was, ‘Here. The traitor.'”
He also said he disagrees with people who tell him that his decision to testify took courage.
“I don’t see myself having a brave Don Quixote-esque [moment]. Maybe that’s it, but definitely not a 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. Beyond that, nothing else.”
Shortly after Bowers’ public testimony, Trump offered Farnsworth an unqualified endorsement.
Bowers described Farnsworth as a backbencher who “did exactly nothing” when he previously served in the state Senate for eight years.
The Speaker of the House promoted the legislative victories of his last term, including overseeing the passage of a budget package with bipartisan support and legislation intended to bring new water sources to the state – one in which conservation issues feature prominently.
Farnsworth touted his endorsement of Trump prominentlywhile claiming to be the best candidate to fight inflation, border migration and recasting elections.
Asked what a Farnsworth victory would say about the state of the party, Bowers then replied, “It says Mr. Trump has, there’s a very, I would almost say it’s a bigoted appeal.”