Arizona House speaker who testified at Jan. 6 hearing loses GOP primary

·2 min read

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Republican who testified at a House Jan. 6 committee hearing about former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, lost his bid in Tuesday's GOP primary for a state Senate seat to a Trump-backed candidate, CBS News projects.

Former state Sen. David Farnsworth was leading with 64% of the vote to Bowers' 36% as of Wednesday morning, according to the Arizona secretary of state's office. Trump supported Farnsworth in the race, and blasted Bowers as a "RINO coward" at a rally last month.

Bowers testified on June 21 before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The hearing focused on a plan by Trump's allies to put forward alternate electors that supported Trump in seven battleground states in the 2020 election that President Biden won, including Arizona.

Bowers resisted that effort, telling the committee that the scheme to replace Mr. Biden's electors with a fake slate for Trump was a "tragic parody."

Rusty Bowers, Arizona state House Speaker, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. / Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / AP
Rusty Bowers, Arizona state House Speaker, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. / Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Earlier this year, Bowers helped block a bill to empower the legislature to choose its own electors, regardless of how the people voted.

Bowers has been a Republican for 30 years. But ahead of a visit by Trump to Arizona in July, the state Republican Party voted to censure him. Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona GOP, announced the condemnation by the panel on Twitter, saying Bowers is "no longer a Republican in good standing & we call on Republicans to replace him at the ballot box in the August primary."

In an interview ahead of Tuesday's primary, Bowers' told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe said he had heard from people who called the censure ahead of a visit by Trump "cheap theatrics." But he admitted that the attacks hurt.

"Sure it hurts, but knowing who they are, and the character that they've displayed over the last few years," Bowers said. "It's not like it's a surprise."

Bowers testified that after Trump and his allies made baseless claims of voter fraud in Arizona and called to put forward fake electors, Trump supporters began descending on his neighborhood and family, claiming he was a pedophile and a corrupt politician.

He said his family had begun to dread Saturdays, when the supporters descended on his neighborhood.

"At the same time ... we had a daughter who was gravely ill, who was upset by what was happening outside and my wife — that is a valiant person, very strong, quiet, very strong woman," he said, growing emotional. "So it was disturbing."

Bowers' daughter died in January 2021.

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