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Arizona Republican who defied Trump and lost primary: ‘I’d do it again in a heartbeat’

Rusty Bowers, the Arizona Republican who defied Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat in the state then testified to the House January 6 committee, has no regrets despite losing his bid for a state senate seat.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he told the Associated Press. “I’d do it 50 times in a row.”

Term limits meant Bowers could not mount another house run. On Tuesday he was trounced in a primary by David Farnsworth, a Trump-endorsed former state senator.

Trump was the first Republican to lose a presidential race in Arizona since Bill Clinton in 1996. Clinton was re-elected anyway. Trump wasn’t.

Bowers refused to help efforts to overturn Trump’s defeat in Arizona – including a partisan audit which ended with Joe Biden’s margin of victory slightly increased.

Bowers also angered Trump and his supporters by testifying in June before the US House committee investigating the deadly attack on Congress.

Bowers told the panel how his faith motivated his defiance of the attempt to subvert democracy, and described threats from Trump supporters while his daughter lay mortally ill.

Censured by the state party, Bowers was given a Profile in Courage award by the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

He initially said he would vote for Trump if he ran for president in 2024.

“If he is the nominee,” Bowers told the Associated Press, “if he was up against Biden, I’d vote for him again. Simply because what he did the first time, before Covid, was so good for the country. In my view it was great.”

But Bowers seemed to change his mind, telling the Deseret News: “I don’t want the choice of having to look at [Trump] again. And if it comes, I’ll be hard pressed. I don’t know what I’ll do.

“But I’m not inclined to support him. Because he doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represent the morals and the platform of my party … That guy is just – he’s his own party. It’s a party of intimidation and I don’t like it.”

He also told Business Insider: “Much of what [Trump] has done has been tyrannical, especially of late.”

After his own defeat, Bowers said Trump had soiled the Republican party.

“President Trump is a dividing force that has thrashed our party,” he told the AP. “And it’s not enough to disagree. You have to disagree and then stomp on people and ruin their reputations and chase them down and thrash them and you just keep beating them up. That’s the Trump model.”

He said the Arizona Republican party now had a similar “bully mentality … and I think you’re going to find out as all these people leave this party, that someday there’s going to be a hard reckoning. And I have a feeling it can be later this year.”

Farnsworth won the state senate seat, since no Democrats entered the primary.

Trump backers did very well up and down the Arizona ballot, with his candidate for governor leading and endorsees for US Senate, attorney general and secretary of state winning. Trump-backed candidates succeeded in several other Arizona races.

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