Townsend, Rogers to square off in LD7 primary

Townsend, Rogers to square off in LD7 primary

Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, stands as a censure resolution targeting her for comments threatening other senators is read aloud in the Arizona Senate March 1, 2022. Se. David Livingston, R-Peoria is also pictured. The resolution passed easily. Photo by John Guzzon/Arizona Capitol Times.

Two Republican state senators are going head-to-head this year to compete for a senate seat after a falling out. 

Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, filed to run for U.S. Congress in January, in part to avoid going against her colleague, Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, for the state senate seat, but a week after Rogers was censured for making violent threats on social media, Townsend entered the Senate race. 

Rogers was censured by the Senate on Mar. 1 after advocating to hang traitors from gallows to “set an example” and threatening to “destroy” the political careers of other legislators who wanted to censure her.  

Kelly Townsend

Townsend was not present for the censure vote, but she spoke on the Senate floor the next day asking Rogers to apologize for antisemitic speech and supporting white nationalist Nick Fuentes. Rogers refused and released a fundraising email from her campaign saying she was under attack by the “uniparty” and “liberal billionaires.” Townsend was upset by the email and yelled on the floor before walking out of the room. 

Since then, Townsend has continued to criticize Rogers on social media for her statements, particularly about Jewish people.We both have similar views on many things, but what differentiates us is I have a great love for everybody in my district and she doesn’t,” Townsend said. For her own views on those communities, she said, “I don’t hate them. I have my own personal beliefs about my family, about myself, but I’m also their senator. I don’t hate them; I won’t be going to post ugly things about them on Twitter.” Townsend was criticized in turn last Thursday over an old tweet she made where she compared Covid vaccines to the Holocaust with an image of a swastika made of needles.  

On Friday, Townsend withdrew from her congressional race and Monday evening, she filed to run in the newly drawn Legislative District 7, which also includes Rogers – who declined to comment on the race. 

“I’ve been barraged with people from everywhere, ‘please run for Senate. You belong in the Senate. Run for reelection.’ I’ve been thinking about it anyways because it’s not fair for people to have someone with these types of views representing them,” said Townsend, adding that people in her district have been asking her to run for Senate all along. “It’s going to be an uphill battle (Rogers) has a lot of money, she has the Trump endorsement. So, I will go and do my level best.” 

Rogers frequently makes incendiary statements in social media and was sued by the Young Agency who employed former legislator Steve Smith after Rogers put out a radio ad calling Smith a slimy character whose modeling agency “specializes in underage girls and advertises on websites linked to sex trafficking.” The ad came out when Rogers was competing against Smith in her own unsuccessful run for Congress. She won the case with the protection of the First Amendment, but Townsend cited these tactics as a reason she was not enthusiastic about their upcoming competition. 

“She’s gonna’ rake me over the coals, but the thing is money doesn’t buy truth. … I wasn’t too excited about running against her because I know exactly how she operates but at the end of the day my God is bigger than her money,” Townsend said.