Bowers: ‘delicious’ irony group failed to recall him

Bowers: ‘delicious’ irony group failed to recall him

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers

A recall of House Speaker Rusty Bowers won’t make the ballot because the right-wing group behind it didn’t fill out the forms correctly.   

The Patriot Party of Arizona had been trying to recall the Mesa Republican, citing his failure to convene a special session to deal with Covid or to support efforts to overturn President Biden’s narrow win in Arizona. The signature deadline was Thursday, and they filed 2,040 petition sheets with about 24,500 signatures, a little more than the 22,331 valid signatures that would have been needed to trigger the recall. 

However, none of the petition sheets had a date-stamped application for a serial number attached to them, which is required under law. An attempt to recall Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski failed to make the ballot in 2018 for the same reasons, a denial upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court. 

“No sheets were eligible for signature review by the Secretary of State’s Office,” State Elections Director Sambo “Bo” Dul wrote in a letter to the applicants Thursday. “Therefore, there are zero signatures eligible for verification by the County Recorder.” 

Since the petitions were rejected, the Secretary of State’s office didn’t review the signatures to determine if they are valid – it is normal for some signatures to be thrown out on grounds such as the signer doesn’t live in the district or isn’t a registered voter. 

Bowers said he thought the group would be able to get the signatures and that he would face a recall election. 

“These are very cruel, mean, angry, disrespectful, deceitful people,” Bowers said. “What they said to get the signatures – I had all kinds of, I would say literally, well I didn’t take 100 calls (but) there were dozens and dozens and dozens of people who said they ran into them. It was all intimidation, saying I was a pedophile, I wanted boys to have sex with boys. And when they came to my house, the III Percenters were there with them. This guy had a gun jammed in his pants, screaming out to my neighbors that I’m an effing pedophile. So, if you’re asking that I would rather avoid them, yes, I’m glad it happened.” 

Bowers said the criteria for getting a recall on the ballot were tightened by the Legislature after Sen. Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican best-known for crafting the controversial anti-illegal immigration bill SB1070, which passed in 2010, was successfully recalled the next year. To date the Pearce recall is the only successful recall of a legislator in Arizona history. 

“After the last recall that was of note in my area, that particular group of people really wanted to tighten up the recall statutes, which was done, and this was the result, and I find an irony in that I can tell you,” Bowers said. “It’s delicious.” 

Bowers said he is still tempted to take some action against some people who “said horrible, horrible things about me and members of my family,” but added “we’ll wait till I’m ready.” 

The state’s campaign finance data, which is only current through the end of April, shows $36,609.22 in independent expenditures this year opposing Bowers. The Patriot Party said in a statement after turning in the signatures that their recall effort had received “crucial help” from Tomi Collins, executive director of the pro-Trump group America Restored.  

Collins, the statement said, in turn enlisted the aid of former Trump lawyer of “release the Kraken” fame Sidney Powell and My Pillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, both of whom have been active in spreading conspiracy theories about the results of the 2020 election and supporting attempts to overturn it. Lindell declared support for it in a phone call that was publicly released in mid-May, and Powell promoted the recall on her Telegram channel. 

“Rep. Bowers is responsible for not protecting Arizona from Election Fraud, allowing Governor Ducey to act as a tyrant, and his desire to lessen the punishment for sexual predators,” the statement said. “The Patriot Party of Arizona is calling for Rep. Bowers to do the honorable thing, and resign, thus allowing his Legislative District to choose his replacement, and not risk allowing a Democrat to steal the seat.” 

After receiving the news that the recall won’t make the ballot, the Patriot Party tweeted “the matter has been turned over to our attorneys, no further comment will be provided at this time.”