Rusty Bowers loses as Trump-backed legislative candidates rout their opponents

Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, was trounced in Tuesday’s primary election by David Farnsworth, one of several legislative candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump who unseated incumbent Republicans.

Bowers, who was censured last month by the Arizona Republican Party, drew the enmity of Trump and his followers in the GOP for refusing to participate in the former president’s efforts to throw Arizona’s 2020 election into doubt. In June, Bowers testified to Congress about the pressure he received from Trump and his campaign to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona, outraging Republicans.


Several weeks later, Trump endorsed Farnsworth, who has served two separate stints in the Arizona legislature, most recently as a senator from 2013 through 2021. Farnsworth, who said in a debate with Bowers that the devil stole the 2020 election from Trump, acknowledged in 2020 that he was a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits that Trump was single-handedly dismantling a global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who drink the blood of the children they traffic around the world.

Farnsworth on Tuesday handily beat Bowers to be the GOP nominee in the solidly Republican District 10, nabbing more than 61% of the vote — an outcome that Bowers predicted in the closing days of the election. 

In the neighboring legislative district, state Sen. Tyler Pace lost by an even larger margin to Robert Scantlebury, a retired police officer who earned Trump’s endorsement in July. Pace was frequently at odds with the arch-conservative wing of the GOP, in large part because he balked at supporting Republican-backed legislation taking aim at LGBTQ rights and immigrants.

Scantlebury won the contest easily, garnering more than 65% of the vote to Pace’s 35%. 

But Scantlebury could face a difficult election in November against Democrat Eva Burch: District 9, which is anchored by western Mesa, leans slightly Democratic.

Across the Valley, Trump-backed nurse Janae Shamp blocked state Rep. Joanne Osborne’s bid to move to the state Senate in District 29, winning nearly 51% of the vote to Osborne’s 34%. (A third candidate, Ryan Eldridge, won about 15%.)

In the northwest Valley, former state legislator Anthony Kern — who is on the Brady List for dishonest law enforcement personnel and was at the Capitol on January 6 — is poised to return to the state Capitol, winning easily against Jamie Kelly in the state Senate primary for District 27. Kern was one of Trump’s earliest endorsements in Arizona.

And state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who was censured by the Senate this year after making a speech to a white nationalist convention, appears likely to win a head-to-head matchup with fellow Sen. Kelly Townsend, a one-time ally. The pair split after Rogers’ speech to the white nationalist America First Political Action Conference in February when Rogers refused to repudiate the racists she addressed — or their beliefs. That prompted Townsend to end a congressional bid and instead challenge Rogers in District 7. 

Rogers holds a nearly 10-point lead in the contest.

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