Fresh off a win in Kansas earlier this month, Republicans and special interests looking to oust conservative members have their sights set on Arizona.
Just four weeks after House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., lost his seat in a Republican primary, fellow caucus member Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., is fighting back against an onslaught of outside Super PAC money aimed at defeating him.
Gosar was elected in the tea-party-wave election of 2010 and is seeking a fourth term in the state’s large, rural fourth district on Aug. 30. But Gosar is busy fending off a spirited challenge from pastor and city council member Ray Strauss.
Gosar says his case for re-election is simple and strong.
“We gave them a promise that we would deliver and we’ve actually done that. We’re one of the most accomplished members of Congress because we actually get things done. We listen to the people. We inventory what they need to get done. We try to limit governments and empower freedoms,” said Gosar.
Over nearly six years in Congress, Gosar has compiled ratings of 92 from both the American Conservative Union and Heritage Action. Conservative Review scores him at 83. Still this conservative district is playing host to a competitive primary thanks to more than $280,000 in outside money attacking Gosar and boosting Strauss.
Gosar says it takes a lot of time and effort to counter an ad campaign that intense.
“They’re throwing the kitchen sink. They have been lying about my record, like I voted for Obamacare when everybody that knows me knows that’s quite the opposite,” said Gosar.
Truth is, Gosar wasn’t even in Congress when Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote in 2010. He has voted for numerous proposed repeals of the law.
But he says the truth doesn’t matter as establishment Republicans look to push him out.
“They’re trying to do the same thing they did to Tim Huelskamp in Kansas; throw out all these negative ads and build up a fever frenzy in people that haven’t voted once in the last four elections. What they’re trying to do is get the angry mob to label someone like myself, who is definitely not an insider and would have to be one of the true outsiders, being labeled as that and then try to oust them,” said Gosar.
The special interest money is coming through the Right Way SuperPAC. The largest donor to the group is the Western Growers Association, which Gosar says doesn’t like his strong stance on border security.
“It’s no different than leadership wanting people to go along with their strategy that’s got us into $19-plus trillion in debt and the same old crap we see over and over again,” said Gosar.
While Right Way is spending more than $23,000 in support of Strauss, the vast majority of the SuperPAC money is aimed at defeating Gosar. The congressman says that proves that Strauss may talk tough about border security but is really in alliance with the national GOP leaders and their deep-pocketed donors.
“He’s backed by open borders illegal amnesty folks that want cheap labor. He’s backed by Western Growers, who have procured and tried to promote Gang of Eight and cheap labor. He’s also got ties to this group that has ties to past leaders like John Boehner and current leadership,” said Gosar.
He said the misrepresentations about his record on immigration and other key issues in Arizona leave him very disappointed in an opponent who is a member of the clergy.
“They want a go-along, get-along type person instead of holding accountability, living through the constitutional framework and the rule of law. It’s quite contradictory when you see a guy who claims to be a pastor that continues to lie over and over and over again about the things we have accomplished,” said Gosar.
Gosar says his record of accomplishment is clear, starting with border security.
“I’ve been a workhorse, putting amendments forth to defund sanctuary cities to making sure our border patrol has adequate funding, to making sure of reimbursement to local communities when Uncle Sam isn’t doing their job,” said Gosar,.
He also mentioned his efforts to defund President Obama’s executive actions on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).
Gosar touts an A+ grade from the immigration group Numbers USA.
He also led House fights to stop the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and other environmental overreach, while fighting to give patients more power in their health care choices and pushing back against the Obama housing initiative that seeks a racial and religious balance in all neighborhoods.
Gosar is also proud to run on the same ticket as Donald Trump, who Gosar says is very popular in the fourth district. He says residents are craving the return of the rule of law, and that includes a sizable percentage of Hispanic voters in the district.
He said the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton is a no-brainer.
“When anybody gives me any guff in regards to that, I’m like, ‘Can you really vote for a criminal? Come on now. Have we stooped that low?’ Donald Trump is talking the right language. He may not always use the right words, but boy he’s articulate because he knows there’s a problem and a pulse that needs to be taken care of,” said Gosar.