Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers may lose his Republican primary for an open Senate seat this week, after testifying before the January 6 committee about the pressure campaign by former President Donald Trump and his associates to reverse the results of the state’s presidential election.
Bowers has drawn the ire of the Arizona GOP, who rebuked him earlier this month, and former President Trump. But he makes no apologies for his testimony before Congress and his decision not to overturn the Arizona results.
“If we want to create a party and an authority and get people to solve problems, you can’t build it on a lie. That falls apart in the end.” he told This Week co-host Jonathan Karl in an exclusive interview at his home in Mesa, Arizona.
Bowers will face Trump-backed candidate David Fansworth in an Aug. 2 primary, making Bowers the first Republican to face voters after testifying before the Jan. 6 committee.
“I had people come and say, you know, just cold turkey, ‘I’m ashamed of you,'” he told Karl.
Bowers says he was also called a “traitor” and was told “the price of treason hangs”.
In his June testimony, Bowers listed several conversations with former President Trump and his personal attorney at the time, Rudy Giuliani, asking him to replace Arizona voters with those who would say Trump won the 2020 election.
Biden won Arizona in 2020 by nearly 11,000 votes.
“Have you ever thought of participating?” Karl Bowers asked.
“I said this is new to me. The idea of scrapping the presidential election is like, okay, so what part of Jupiter can I land on and colonize?” Bowers said.
Giuliani “never” provided evidence to support claims that thousands of Arizona dead voted, Bowers said.
“You asked [Giuliani] for fraud?” Karl asked.
“Again and again, and he said, ‘Yes, yes.’ And he never gave us anything. No names, no dates, nothing.”
Bowers, who is on a tenure in the state house, previously said it would take a “miracle” before he wins his bid for the state senate. He told Karl, “The demographics of my race are heavily Trump.”
In an unusual move for a state legislature race, former President Trump has campaigned against Bowers in Arizona.
“Rusty Bowers, he’s a RINO [‘Republican in name only’] coward who recently sat on the totally partisan, unelected committee of political thugs and hackers against the Republican Party and embarrassed himself, and he embarrassed the state of Arizona,” he told a crowd in Prescott Valley, Arizona, on July 22.
In response, Bowers told Karl: “I’ve thought at times, someone who was born the way they was raised – they have no idea what a tough life is and what people have to go through in the real world. He has no idea what courage is and the last place on earth I would want to do evil would be in the state of Arizona.”
Bowers, a fifth-generation Arizonan, has held public office for 17 years. Bowers, like other Republicans who have broken with the former president, has faced harassment and threats.
“How do you account for the influence he has on Republicans, including many Republican leaders here in Arizona?” asked Karl Bowers.
“Well, these leaders in Arizona are an interesting group in and of themselves. They rule by brawl and intimidation,” Bower said. “So, you know, they’ve found a niche, they’ve found a way, and it’s fear. And humans can use fear, demagogues like to use fear as a weapon. And they make everything a weapon. This is not a lead for me to use brawl. “
According to his testimony, Bowers was criticized for telling a reporter he would vote for Pres. Trump in 2024. He told Karl that was absolutely not the case.
“So, just to be clear, you’re not backing Trump again?” Karl asked.
“I’m not,” Bowers said. “My vote will never stain his name on a ballot.”
“You will never vote for Donald Trump again?” repeats Karl.
“I’ll never vote for him,” Bowers replied. “But I don’t have to because I think America is tired. And there are absolutely strong, qualified, moral, responsible and sincere people. And that’s what I want. That’s what I want in my party. And that’s what I want to see.”
When asked if former President Trump could ever be trusted with a position of authority again, Bowers said, “I certainly wouldn’t hope so. I certainly do not trust the authority he would exercise.”
Bowers echoed the words of Jan. 6 House Deputy Speaker Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was one of 10 House Representatives to vote to impeach Trump after the Capitol riot.
“Liz also said that ‘the reality we face today as Republicans is that we must choose to be loyal to Donald Trump or loyal to the Constitution.’ And you can’t be both,” Karl said.
“I see no question at all. No question. The Constitution was designed to endure and be the light of liberty for the whole world. That’s not a legacy I want to play with,” Bowers said.
Bowers also told Karl he had not been contacted by the Justice Department, which is conducting its own investigation into the attack on the Capitol, but would cooperate if asked.
“I have nothing to hide and I want to tell the truth,” he said.