It’s payback time and Donald Trump is certainly delivering in the state of Arizona.
On Monday, he added to his all-star lineup of endorsed candidates, conferring his blessing on two Republicans running for the state Legislature: a former lawmaker tossed out of office last year and possibly the kookiest legislator that Arizona has ever seen.
And that is saying something.
But both have run around the country promoting the myth that Arizona’s election was stolen and really, that is the only qualification needed to snag an endorsement from the nation’s 45th president.
Now joining the Trump lineup of Kari Lake (governor), Mark Finchem (secretary of state) and Paul Gosar (Congress): former state Rep. Anthony Kern and state Sen. Wendy Rogers.
Kern lost his seat to a Dem in a GOP district
Kern gained national notoriety earlier this year when he was spotted on the floor of Veterans Memorial Coliseum, part of the “nonpartisan” audit team recounting ballots.
— Ryan Randazzo (@utilityreporter) April 30, 2021
Before that, he was spotted on the steps of U.S. Capitol on Jan 6, as rioters stormed the place to try to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election. Kern says he didn’t go inside and was only there “to support Arizona’s and America’s duly elected President Donald Trump”.
Kern served in the Arizona House for three terms, capped by his 2019 behind-the-scenes attempt to change a state law to get his name removed from a list of dishonest law enforcement officers.
Turns out Kern was fired from the El Mirage Police Department in 2014 for lying to his boss and his name was added to a “Brady list” of law enforcement officers whose credibility is in question. Kern, who was a civilian code enforcement officer, failed to repay the city for a tablet computer he lost then lied to his supervisor about it.
A few months after his firing, he was elected to the Legislature. Voters never knew he’d been fired for dishonesty as Kern reached a settlement in which El Mirage agreed to cover up the circumstances of his departure.
It all came a-tumbling out in in the spring of 2019 when he asked a fellow lawmaker to sponsor a bill that would have allowed him to get his name removed from the Brady list.
Kern said at the time that he asked Rep. John Kavanagh to sponsor the bill to help others who had been unfairly blacklisted.
Voters in Glendale and northwest Phoenix apparently didn’t appreciate his blatant misuse of office to fix a personal problem. The Republican-dominated district tossed him out last year, installing Democrat Judy Schwiebert in his place.
Now he could coast into Sen. Boyer's seat
Now he’s running for the Senate and depending upon how the district is redrawn over the next month by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, he could well coast into office. The current occupant of the seat, Sen. Paul Boyer, is tossing in the towel, having committed the apparently unpardonable sin of questioning whether Senate Republicans were taking audit mania too far.
Boyer was the lone Senate Republican who refused to hold the GOP-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt and put them in handcuffs last spring for not turning over the subpoenaed ballots without a judge’s approval.
For that, he was labelled a RINO and a traitor. Boyer got so many threats that he had to change his phone number. He and his family were forced to leave their home and seek police protection after loyal Trump supporters posted his address on the internet.
The big man himself lauded the demise of what is perhaps the last moderately conservative Republican in the Legislature – a guy who once stood up to his entire caucus in order to pass a state law to give childhood sexual assault victims more time to hold their rapists accountable.
“Great news for Arizona, Senator Paul Boyer, a RINO obstructionist, is done,” Trump said on Friday after Boyer announced he would not seek re-election. “Congratulations to (Senate President) Karen Fann all of the other Republican Patriots who have worked so hard to reveal the Presidential Election Fraud of November 3rd!”
Rogers has no legislative accomplishments
In addition to endorsing Kern to replace Boyer, Trump also has endorsed Rogers, whose main credential seems to be her willingness to pretty much say anything to gain traction on the steep and often slimy political slope.
Rogers spent a decade trying to convince voters to send her to Congress (and before that, the state Senate), going so far as to baselessly accuse a Republican rival of having ties to a sex-trafficking ring in 2018. When that didn’t work, she moved from Tempe to a travel trailer in Flagstaff last year, hoping the Legislature would be a springboard to bigger things.
In 2020, she spent more than a million dollars to win a state Senate seat by running a slash-and-burn campaign against then-Sen. Sylvia Allen, charging that one of the most conservative members of the Legislature was “not conservative enough”.
She thus far has no record of legislative accomplishment, though she did try a get a state highway in northern Arizona named for Donald Trump.
Rogers is a proud member of the Oath Keepers, the far right militia group that figured prominently in the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol. She calls Robert E. Lee a “great patriot”, attends QAnon conferences and recently sounded the alarm to white supremacists, warning that “we are being replaced and invaded” by immigrants who cross the border illegally.
She was calling for Arizona’s election to be decertified even before the audit was complete and for elections officials to be thrown in jail.
Never mind that even the auditors have acknowledged they found no evidence of fraud or that decertification isn’t actually a thing or that here in America you need actual evidence in order to throw someone in jail.
She may cruise to victory with no challenge
Rogers has used the election audit to stuff her pockets with campaign cash and ascend the ranks to become a national rock star on the far right, as she now travels the country stumping for Republican candidates and election audits across the land.
Steve Bannon, who was just indicted for contempt of Congress, has called her a “breakout star” and the woman who spent a decade trying to get voters to elect her to something, anything, is now in high demand in the MAGA movement.
No Republican has thus far dared to challenge her in next year’s election and now with Trump’s “complete and total endorsement”, it’s a pretty safe bet that none will.
Anthony Kern and Wendy Rogers, it seems, are the future of the once-Grand Old Party.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Wendy Rogers and Anthony Kern get the Trump seal of endorsement