Recall effort against Arizona House speaker Rusty Bowers fails

Mary Jo Pitzl
Arizona Republic
House Speaker Rusty Bowers presides before Gov. Doug Ducey's State of the State address at the Arizona State Capitol on January 13, 2020.

An attempted recall of House Speaker Rusty Bowers has failed, the Arizona Secretary of State's Office says.

Recall backers turned in what they estimated as 24,500 signatures, which on its face would be more than enough to trigger a recall election for Bowers, R-Mesa.

But a technical flaw sank the effort: None of the 2,040 signature sheets reviewed after they were submitted early Thursday evening had the date-stamped recall application attached to them, as required by state law.

In a letter addressed to Tory Smock, a member of the Patriot Party of Arizona, state elections director Sambo Dul explained the error and said it without the properly submitted petition sheets, the signatures they contain cannot be counted.

Bowers was stunned by the development.

"I was gearing up to go through a recall," he said.

The Patriot Party of Arizona launched the recall drive in February, citing a litany of complaints that included not supporting an audit of the 2020 presidential election. They needed to collect the valid signatures of 22,331 registered voters in Bowers' Mesa district to trigger a recall election.

A call to Steve Daniels, Patriot Party chairman, was not immediately returned.

Bowers said he was convinced he would have a recall fight on his hands.

"They've been coming to my house and intimidating our family and our neighborhood," he said. There were "vile" mobile trucks that plied through his neighborhood, he said,  using loud speakers to call him a pedophile.

"I should ask for an audit of these signatures," Bowers said, taking a poke at the complaints lodged against him. "There could be bamboo in those (signature) papers, there could be blue Sharpies."

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That was a reference to irregularities that have been noted in the ongoing review of Maricopa County ballots from the 2020 election. Bowers did not support such an audit.

Reach the reporter at maryjo.pitzl@arizonarepublic.com and follow her on Twitter @maryjpitzl.

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