Wendy Rogers faces off against Kelly Townsend in most watched Arizona legislative primary

Both Senators are facing each other for the state Senate seat in the newly created Legislative District 7, which runs from lagstaff to eastern Pinal County.
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 6:51 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — It might be the most watched legislative primary in the state this year. Two Republicans, both of them current state senators, are now forced to square off in the same district. State Sens. Wendy Rogers and Kelly Townsend are facing each other for the state Senate seat in the newly created Legislative District 7, which runs from Flagstaff to eastern Pinal County.

Rogers, a former Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is likely best known for her strong support of Donald Trump and for getting censured after delivering a pre-recorded speech to a white nationalist conference. In the speech, Rogers called for her political rivals to be hanged. She was later unapologetic during a floor speech after the Senate voted to rebuke her.

For Townsend, this was when she decided to drop her run for Congress and challenge a fellow Republican in a state Senate run. “The direction (Rogers) was going in was pretty extreme and wasn’t good for our state, didn’t represent our party so I finally made the decision after the censure,” Townsend recently told Arizona’s Family. Townsend has served in the Legislature for 10 years, first in the state House before moving to the upper chamber.

Like Rogers, Townsend believes in the unproven claims of fraud in the 2020 election. But unlike her opponent, Townsend is willing to call out extreme and violent speech. “I’m going to have to run for re-election and to give the people in this new district a choice of someone who’s effective, who’s not going to get ethics complaints, who’s not going to be censured and who is going to get effective good legislation passed,” she said.

A few months after Rogers was formally rebuked, the Senate OK’d another ethics investigation. This came after Rogers suggested on social media the federal government was behind a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10. After the Republican-led Senate ordered the probe earlier this year, Rogers refused to speak to us. The investigation into Rogers was eventually dropped. Rogers is endorsed by Donald Trump, who is expected to hold a rally in Prescott Valley on Saturday and has turned her embrace of conspiracy theories into a fundraising juggernaut. Last year she raised $2.5 million, a record for a state legislative candidate.

In contrast, Townsend reported bringing in just over $9,000, according to state campaign finance records. Rogers has received a lot from donors who live out of state, while Townsend is running a more locally-focused effort.