Arizona House Speaker Bowers censured, says he wouldn’t change a thing 

Arizona House Speaker Bowers censured, says he wouldn’t change a thing 

Bowers, Trump, Capitol, riots, Jan. 6
Arizona’s House Speaker Rusty Bowers returns at the end of a break in a House select committee hearing investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington on June 21. The Arizona Republican Party this week censured Bowers as retaliation for his testimony to the January 6 committee. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

House Speaker Rusty Bowers was censured by the Arizona Republican Party this week as retaliation for his testimony to the January 6 committee, but he said if he could go back, he wouldn’t do anything differently. 

The censure stated that Bowers had “lost the confidence of a majority of Republican Party leaders and his colleagues in the legislature in the state of Arizona” and is “unfit to serve the platform of the Republican Party and will of the voter of the Republican Party of Arizona.”  

It gave several reasons for censure, including Bowers’ support of a bill to give tax-funded in-state tuition to migrants at state universities and a bill to invest $1 billion into education; his opposition to a bill establishing that only two genders should be on government documents; and his sponsoring of a bill to make sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class and the bill that led to a debacle over precinct committeemen elections. 

The censure also said Bowers “ensured killing all meaningful election integrity bills” and “prevented Republicans” from debating them.  

The formal statement of disapproval went on to say that Bowers was not “forthright in his interactions” with other legislative leadership and Republican leadership. The document goes on to encourage the Maricopa County Republican Party and Legislative District 10 Republicans to also censure Bowers and tells voters to “expel him permanently from office in the impending primary election.” 

“It’s certainly obvious to me that they’re trying to use the orange mafia connection and their acquiescence to the Donald to influence as many races as they can,” Bowers said of the state party. 

Last month, Bowers testified to the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and said that former President Trump tried to convince him to overturn Arizona’s election results without evidence.  

Trump preemptively refuted Bowers’ testimony before he actually testified to the January 6 committee, and then endorsed Bowers’ opponent, former state Sen. David Farnsworth, in their upcoming legislative district 10 primary. The endorsement focused largely on attacking Bowers, who Trump called “weak” and a “RINO,” which means a Republican in Name Only. Trump claimed that Bowers agreed to overturn the election results, but Bowers told the committee that’s not true. 

Bowers supported Trump, but he is not a fan of the former president’s recent behavior. He said that Trump shows a lack of integrity and when it comes to presidential elections, he’s confident that Trump won’t be the nominee a third time.  

“This country is tired of all this bitter, handwringing, name-calling, trashing,” Bowers said. “People are leaving this party. … They’re just tired of this cultic mentality.” 

Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward tweeted about Bowers on July 19, He is no longer a Republican in good standing & we call on Republicans to replace him at the ballot box in the August primary.” 

Bowers stood by his actions related to Trump. 

“I happen to be a very convenient target who spoke up on the 6th, and I wasn’t going to back down, and I kept my oath to my state,” Bowers said. 

Even though he’s been called out by the former president and censured by his own party, Bowers was quick to say that he wouldn’t have done it differently. He spoke about his mother, who gave up a high-profile career to get married, move to a sheep ranch, and take care of her children. 

“Sacrifice is an unusual word,” Bowers recalls her telling him. “It means you give up something you love for something you love better.”  

In his case Bowers feels the same about his career. 

“I love the institution here,” he said. “I love representing people who want to hold me to a high standard of performance, but I will not give up my oath.” 

Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, opposed several Republican attempts at election reform over the past two years and would not say that Arizona’s 2020 election was stolen. He has been censured by some districts, but not by the party. 

“What’s a guy gotta do to get censured by the party?” Boyer joked.    

In seriousness, he said that the Republican Party’s tactic will only work out in 2022 because President Biden has been “so bad at his job” lately, but it could hurt the cause in the future. 

 “Long term we can’t keep this up as a party,” Boyer said. 

Sen T.J. Shope was critical of the censure of Bowers. 

“It was a means to justify actions already taken by the chair, such as picking sides,” Shope said. “Every time the party does this it just really lessens the impact and anything that they’re trying to accomplish. It furthers the notion that this is all just a vanity project for Kelli Ward.” 

Shope was censured in 2013 for supporting a Medicaid bill but has been in the clear since.  

He said he agrees with Boyer that the party will end up doing Democrats a favor by expecting candidates to conform to their “deranged criteria,” but expects the problem to continue with Ward as the party chair. 

Bowers joins Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain in the ranks of GOP politicians who were censured over the last two years. Practically speaking, the censure is symbolic and does not prevent Bowers from doing anything in his role as House speaker. It could, however, influence Bowers’ primary race for state Senate.  

He told NBC news that it would “take a miracle” to win his upcoming election against Farnsworth.  

I have a very heavily Trumpian district,” Bowers said. 

Only time will tell if Trump’s endorsement and the party’s censure of Bowers will be enough to kill his campaign and grant the former president his revenge.