Gabrielle Giffords’ challenger won’t run as a Democrat, defends her against Yahoo! commenters

Rachel Rose Hartman
September 1, 2011

Anthony Prowell received national attention as well as scorn this month for filing to run as a Democrat for the House seat currently held by Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, setting up the prospect of a primary challenge against the congresswoman as she recovers from a January shooting.

But Prowell told The Ticket this week that he has no intention of running against Giffords--or of running on the Democratic Party line.

"

I keep trying to tell people I'm not going to be a Democrat," Prowell said.

Prowell, a special education teacher, said when he filed his candidacy in Arizona he was asked if he wanted to identify with a party and he first thought, "I'd rather not." Prowell said he then decided "it's good to have a party" and filed as a Democrat even though he is a registered independent. He said he assumed he would later quietly hash out the details.

Prowell was reassured by the Federal Election Commission, he said, about the ease with which he could change his party affiliation.

Before he had even told anyone about his plans, let alone campaigned, the Arizona Capitol Times discovered Prowell's filing on record.

"Being the government, I thought the paperwork would take forever," Prowell said.

Soon he became the focus of national news stories (including one by The Ticket) and was speaking to reporters from the Daily Caller, Fox News and other outlets.

He told them of the scorn he received from Democrats who were furious about Prowell's apparent refusal to defer to the congresswoman--who has yet to reveal whether she will run for re-election.

Prowell found himself wading into a highly sensitive conversation about Giffords' condition and whether she is be able to serve.

Prowell defended the congresswoman against criticism of her fitness to hold office, saying he has "nothing against her" and that he has voted for her in the past. He said he was greatly disturbed by the Yahoo! commenters who poked fun at the congresswoman's condition in the comments section of The Ticket's story published Monday.

Multiple commenters used Giffords' condition to call members of Congress "braindead" and many others insulted her physical and mental state.

"I think that's one of the things that's wrong with the country too because we're not able to compromise with anybody--It's my way or no way," Prowell said. "And a lot of people don't seem to be able to listen to logic anymore."

The experience taught him a lot about the major parties and what he views as their monopoly on the electoral process, Prowell said.

"The two parties don't want competition," he said. "And neither political party cares for the regular person."

He says he's now firmly committed to campaigning as a Green Party candidate or as an independent. He said his goal was to provide voters with a candidate who will pledge to represent the entire district, even those who didn't vote for him, and be accessible to constituents.

"If I get elected to the Green party, I'm not beholden to anybody," Prowell said. "I'd be everybody's representative."

(A Green Party representative in Congress, however, would not receive committee assignments if he didn't caucus with one of the major parties.)

For now, Prowell has no staff, no website and hasn't begun campaigning. How does he feel about the world of politics that he has just entered?

"I'm getting to peek behind the curtain--and there's some nasty stuff back there," he said.

After The Ticket's interview with Prowell, the Huffington Post reported that a local chapter of the Republican Party in Giffords' district is raffling a Glock 23 at a fundraiser. Giffords and the other victims of the January shooting were attacked with a Glock 19.