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Townsend casts Congressional bid with eye on elections, Trump

Kelly Townsend

IN THIS ARTICLE: Why she’s running out of home district, appearance at Trump rally, election security and navigating Republican challengers

An Apache Junction lawmaker who continues to question the outcome of the 2020 presidential race now wants to represent southeast Arizona in Congress. 

“Anybody who knows me know that my heart has been down in the southern part of the state anyway,” Republican state Sen. Kelly Townsend told Capitol Media Services on Monday. “That’s where I go for leisure and that’s where I go to work.” 

And that, she said, means politically, pointing out that she has been involved in southern Arizona issues, like efforts to get the attorney general to overturn a mandate by Pima County that its employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The move comes two days after Townsend spoke at the Trump rally in Florence where she got a shout-out by the former president. Townsend also led the crowd in a cheer, saying “What do we want? Indictments. When do we want them? Now.” 

But Townsend insisted she is not in the same camp as some other Republicans, like gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake, who claims without any evidence that the election was stolen and that Biden was not legitimately elected. Instead, she said, it’s a matter of answering a bunch of questions about how the election was conducted despite the fact that various reviews and lawsuits to date all have affirmed the Trump loss. 

“We have reports, still waiting for the final, and the attorney general is investigating, that there were (ballot) envelopes with zero signatures on there, and it got approved as a signature,” Townsend said. “You can’t tell me that wasn’t with intent to defraud by saying, ‘Yeah, it did’ and just clicking the ‘Yes’ box and sending it on and counting the votes.” 

Townsend acknowledged she crafted a proposal a year ago — even after the tally was certified and even after the state’s 11 electors cast their ballots for Biden — to actually allow the legislature to override the results and instead transfer those votes to Trump. 

She said, though, that wasn’t to disregard the public vote but simply to provide a mechanism to for lawmakers to void the results if an audit demanded by Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, showed problems. 

Townsend never got to pursue the measure because that audit is still ongoing. The Senate is waiting for an analysis of Maricopa County computer files even though a hand count by Cyber Ninjas, the firm it hired for the review, showed the race did, in fact, go to Biden. 

The newly redrawn congressional district is considered a possible pickup for the GOP, what with incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick having announced her retirement. It already has attracted several Republican contenders. 

Some, like Juan Ciscomani, a former aide to Gov. Doug Ducey, have roots in southern Arizona. 

But the link for others is more tentative. 

Josh Barnett has been living in Scottsdale and two years ago made an unsuccessful run for Congress against Democrat Ruben Gallego in southwest Phoenix. And Kathleen Winn is a member of the governing board of the Maricopa community colleges and was defeated in a 2016 race for Mesa city council. 

On paper, the newly redrawn district leans slightly Republican based on voter registration figures. 

But the area has proven to be fertile ground for both parties. 

Before Kirkpatrick it was represented by Republican Martha McSally. But it also is the area that elected Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.

I don’t know because we haven’t finished this audit,

Sen. Kelly Townsend on who won 2020 presidential election

And an analysis of the 2020 election using the current district lines shows that it went for both Biden and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Townsend said she remains undeterred. 

“My challenge is to win the hearts and the minds of the voters and I think I can do that,” she said, saying that people in southern Arizona know her. 

“My No. 1 goal is the rights and the health of the district,” Townsend said. “I have proven that I’m willing to do that regardless of a person’s party.” 

But she still sits on the fence when asked whether she believes Biden or Trump actually won the 2020 election. 

“I don’t know because we haven’t finished this audit,” Townsend said. 

“We have reports that have come to us about irregularities,” she continued. “Until we have an answer from the attorney general, who is currently investigating the claims, it would be irresponsible for me to make a claim, one way or the other.” 

Townsend also has been at the center of various debates over COVID and vaccines. 

She has decried the push to get people vaccinated, stating “I am afraid for our society.” She also has equated efforts to mandate vaccination with Communism. 

And just last month she introduced legislation that would punish pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs for purposes that have not been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. 

That is specifically aimed at allowing patients to get ivermectin, a drug normally used to parasites, particularly in animals. There are claims that it can be used to prevent COVID-19. 

In some ways the decision to pursue a congressional bid was forced on Townsend. 

The new legislative lines put her in the same district as fellow Senate Republican Wendy Rogers from Flagstaff who has created a national name for herself — and gathered nearly $2.5 million so far in her reelection bid — over her claims of election fraud. Townsend, who had only $13,000 in her campaign fund, said she did not want to run against a fellow Republican. 

She also said a congressional bid in her home district also was not an option as she would have to try to unseat Republican Andy Biggs. 

On Twitter: @azcapmedia 

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