Sen. Paul Boyer is calling it quits. It’s a disturbing reminder of how ugly Arizona politics have become and a glimpse that the worst is perhaps yet to come.
Boyer’s decision against seeking re-election next year wasn’t entirely a surprise to anyone paying attention. But it still elicited lamentations amid the state’s political turmoil.
Boyer was the only Republican in the state Senate who stood up to the shenanigans of his colleagues, who wanted to jail Maricopa County board of supervisors over the recount of the 2020 presidential ballots.
Boyer told journalists that his heart isn’t in it any longer and that the Legislature “feels more toxic than it had ever been.”
That’s an understatement in a world where even the presumption of being a good or sensible conservative isn’t good enough for the MAGA crowd now controlling the Arizona Republican Party.
Boyer had the audacity to step out of line
The leaders unleashing the MAGA mob against Boyer included none other than Senate President Karen Fann, the Prescott Republican who also led the bogus election audit.
Fann, too, is calling quits after her term ends next year but not without first sticking it to Boyer.
She had already thrown her support behind former state Rep. Anthony Kern to represent the northwest Valley District 20 that includes parts of Glendale.
Just this month Fann had hosted a fundraiser for Kern, who, by media accounts, joined the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to overturn the election results and keep Donald Trump in the White House.
The insurrection didn’t work, fanning the flames of the “Stop the Steal” movement to sow distrust in elections and go after anyone who doesn’t fall in line.
Boyer had the audacity to step out of line.
He was already on thin ice with the party
He was a holdout on the state budget until, as The Arizona Republic reported, he got to redirect surplus funding toward debt reduction and saved local governments from being penalized by deep cuts in state income-tax collections.
The final straw that broke the camel’s back, of course, was his no vote to find the county supervisors in contempt over the audit.
That infuriated the Stop the Steal ringleader, who called him a RINO (Republican In Name Only).
“Boyer has been nothing but trouble, and nobody knows why,” Trump said in a July email statement, since he was booted from Twitter. Trump then gave a shout out to Kern as a “strong and highly respected challenger.”
Boyer, bless him, fired back at Trump, mocking the border wall with Mexico that Trump promised to build and the laughable and false claims that bamboo ballots were imported into Arizona.
Had Trump built the wall like he promised, perhaps he could’ve prevented the 40k #BambooBallots from being imported into Arizona 😆. And if he hadn’t started an insurrection in D.C. and gotten kicked off here, I could’ve responded directly to him. So there’s that. pic.twitter.com/elGvwIHca0
— Paul Boyer (@PaulDBoyer) July 22, 2021
Will Kern get the last laugh? That's up to voters
Boyer proved to be tough, the kind of politician who was willing to stand up to powerful bullies. But that takes a toll. Who wants to put up with the increasing toxicity of politics in general and Trump’s Republicans in particular?
At one point, Boyer had to go home to his young family surrounded by security after credible threats to his life – all because he had the audacity to speak up against the Stop the Steal folks.
And now one of the movement’s ardent supporters has a chance to replace him? As new legislative maps are being considered, Kern appears to have a shot at winning.
Only Arizona voters have the power to stop the increasingly toxic and vengeful behavior that Trump Republicans have exhibited.
They’ve won by chasing Boyer from the Senate in 2022. But this won’t be the last time Arizonans will hear from him.
“They’re stuck with me for a year,” Boyer told reporters.
Give them hell, senator!
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Sen. Paul Boyer's exodus proves how ugly Arizona politics have become