“If you don’t vote or you vote for a Democrat, you’re voting for communism,” Rep. Paul Gosar told members of the Gila County Republican Party gathered in Rumsey Park on a windy Monday.

He said Democratic resistance to the Trump administration has bred a culture of lawless anarchy that lies behind the Black Lives Matter demonstrations as well as efforts to tear down or force the removal of statues, mostly tributes to Confederate generals but also an 1876 Washington, D.C. statue showing a slave kneeling at the feet of Abraham Lincoln.

“Can anybody believe we’re talking about anarchy in our country right now?” he asked.

Gosar, who wore a mask until he spoke, also called the state or city orders mandating business closures or the wearing of masks in public as “an experiment in socialism — the government telling you what to do and when to do it.”

He added that “capitalism allows me to be the person I want to be. (The U.S. has) the lowest amount of poor people and people not being fed in the world because of the goodness of this country … Nobody is perfect, but this country is as close as you can get.”

The gathering drew a relatively small audience, most of whom wore masks and avoided crowding together in the windy, outdoor venue.

A host of elected officials showed up, including State Sen. Sylvia Allen, State House candidate Brenda Barton, Gila County Supervisor Tim Humphrey, supervisor candidate Hallie Overman-Jackman, Payson mayor candidate Jennifer Smith, Payson council candidates Barbara Underwood and Jolynn Schinstock, Star Valley Councilor Andy McKinney, Payson Councilor Jim Ferris, Arizona Corporation Commission write-in candidate Jim O’Conner, Gila County Sheriff Adam Shepherd and others.

Gosar’s Republican primary opponent, Anne Marie Ward, did not attend, but hosted her own event in Payson last week. A conservative businesswoman and middle school math teacher, she has called Gosar “totally out of touch” with voters in the district.

One audience member asked, “can you tell us what’s going on behind the scenes that we’re not hearing about dealing with the insurrectionists and the sheep who follow them?”

Gosar noted that he has talked to the U.S. attorney general about seizing the assets of protest organizers by applying the federal laws that allow for seizure of cars, cash, even homes of people accused of links to organized crime and drug trafficking. He said groups like antifa, which supports Black Lives Matter demonstrations, amount to terrorist organizations.

A loosely organized national network, ANTIFA opposes White Supremacy and fascism, with some of its members advocating violence.

“We need to get to the people funding them,” and seize their assets, said Gosar.

At one point, he offered an account of efforts to protect the Emancipation statue, which showed a slave kneeling at the feet of Abraham Lincoln. He said National Guard commanders proposed protecting the statue by deploying unarmed National Guard troops. So Gosar said he got involved with a group that proposed sending a group of armed citizens to protect the statute and the unarmed troops. The plan never came to fruition and demonstrators did not pull down the statue, which is now protected by a fence and barricades.

“We’re playing for real marbles now,” said Gosar. “You may not like the statues, but there’s a process for removing them.”

Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey rose to urge stronger support for the right to bear arms enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Without the Second Amendment, none of the other rights are guaranteed,” said Morrissey. He urged Gosar to stiffen Arizona Sen. Martha McSally’s opposition to any restrictions on gun ownership, saying her Democratic senate opponent — former astronaut and fighter pilot Mark Kelly — is a “gun grabber.”

Kelly has advocated for gun restrictions like a ban on automatic assault rifles and universal registration of gun sales ever since an assassination attempt on his wife, then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. A gunman shot Giffords in the head and killed six people and wounded 12 others in front of a Tucson supermarket in 2011.

Gosar agreed the Second Amendment is critical. “I want to protect my family. That’s my God-given right. You’ll take my gun away from my dead, dying hand.”

Gila County Supervisor Tim Humphrey then rose to plead for Gosar’s help in convincing the Forest Service to spend more money on maintaining roads in rural Gila County. He said the 185,000-acre Bush Fire destroyed grazing land for many ranches in the Tonto Basin. Moreover, erosion from the denuded slopes will quickly fill up all the culverts in the region’s many dirt roads and then wash out the roads.

“The Forest Service isn’t going to do anything,” said Humphrey. “Highway 188 has a million culverts and they’re all going to wash out. I’m here today asking for help.”

“We can’t allow them to tell us no,” responded Gosar. “Let’s get our voices together.”

“But they’ll tell us ‘no,’” grumbled Humphrey.

Another listener asked what Congress can do to prevent social media platforms from censoring the speech on Twitter or Facebook or other platforms. She said the censorship would determine “whether we’re going to have a country or not going to have a country.”

Facebook and Twitter have taken a more aggressive stance on trying to shut down the dissemination of hate speech or inflammatory conspiracy theories, like the unfounded allegation that cultural and political elites including Hillary Clinton were part of a child sex trafficking ring operated out of a pizza parlor. When President Trump Tweeted “when the looting starts the shooting starts,” Twitter put a comment on the Tweet saying it glorified violence.

The administration has retaliated by threatening to revoke a federal policy that provides social media businesses broad immunity from lawsuits on the theory they’re platforms, not publications. This means Facebook and Twitter and others can post material that would be libelous or an invasion of privacy if written in a newspaper.

Gosar said consumers should sign up for various levels of filtering when they sign up for social media — including no filter at all.

He said his social media posts are being “censored all the time ... We’re the ones who said (accused sex predator Jeffrey) Epstein didn’t hang himself (in jail).”

He said nothing less than the survival of the country is at stake.

“The other side (Democrats) is tearing the family apart. We’ve got to get people out” to vote, he said, surveying the mostly empty Rumsey Park ramada. “How many people should have been here today?” he asked.

“Everyone,” called someone from the audience.

Contact the writer at paleshire@payson.com

Recommended for you

(23) comments

Mike White

A vote for a Democrat is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the likes of Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, Adam Shiff, and on and on. Not to mention a continuation of the Deep State and others bent on fundamentally transforming our country away from its Constitutional basis toward a centrist and socialist form of government. And a vote for a Democrat presidential candidate is a vote for the appointment of justices like Bader-Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer, none of whom are dedicated to maintaining our current form of Constitutionalism. So, yes, a vote for a Democrat is an indirect vote for Communism.

Ted Paulk

Sounds great to me...

Gosar lies about the Coronavirus flattening...

Among other Gosar and Biggs lies.

Trump lies because his sheep believe him

And this sudden swing in messages, calling Democrats "Communists" is insane.

Name one Paysonite who is a Communist...

Silly Trump 🐒🐒🐒

Mike White

All of the references were Democrats at the national level, although there are likely some people in Payson who would vote for them if they could.

Jack Handy

Mr. Paulk,

Could you take a brief moment out of your day and explain to us dumb folks what you like about Biden, what he brings to the table, the policies that you feel really exemplify the shining points of the party?

We'll wait.


Ted Paulk


Ted Paulk

Honest leadership

Ted Paulk

Mike White, Could YOU please give us the name of even ONE Communist, or Fascist, Democrat "at the national level"? Thanking you in advance for saving America from the Red Plague. Vietnam Vet

Jack Handy

Mr. Paulk,

So you think Biden is honest. You think he's an honest leader. Then we're back to Trump again. It never fails. I'm honestly shocked that we got 2 answers, no matter how comical they might be. Lying dog-faced pony soldier. His words, not mine. But he's honest. I'm dying here.

As far as your Trump nonsense, the reports go back 5 years, which would be pre-President Trump. I can't believe Obama didn't do anything! My goodness! Oh wait, they were unsubstantiated then, just as they are now. Please, please, please turn off your TV. Gobbling up all the nonsense isn't good for you, or anybody else. That tinfoil hat can't be good for circulation either.


Ted Paulk

Trump does nothing about Putin paying BOUNTIES to the Taliban for killing American troops. Vietnam Veteran

Ted Paulk

OMG! You sound just like Tucker Carlson...and I'll bet you think that's a compliment.

Ted Paulk

I have lived in Arizona since 1973 and in Payson since 1996; I have yet to meet a "Communist".

John Bracich

Be interesting if they could have debates between McSally and Kelly. And perhaps a debate between Gosar and his primary rival.

Ted Paulk

Gosar refused to debate Ann Kirkpatrick after agreeing to.

Gosar refused to meet with me after having his Payson gopher , Jim Muhr , set up a meeting.

Gosar held this gathering at Rumsey Park with no public notice.

Joel Sherwood

I like the proactive communication Anne Marie Ward speaks about. Go Anne!

Bruce W Heffner

I agree with Paul. Today's Democratic party is the party of evil too!

Ted Paulk

"Party of evil"?

Trump's been impeached!

Jack Handy

So was Slick Willie. That was based on actual facts, not a phony FISA warrant and a corrupt DOJ working at the direction of a sitting US President to sabotage a candidate. That isn't over yet. It was a distraction that the feeble minded fell for.

While that was going on President Trump was trying to get ahead of the 'rona, but the sheep were distracted. It's got to be hard to be on the wrong side of history as a democrat. The party that hates rich, old, white men narrowed it down to Bernie and Creepy Joe. Awesome!

They are the party of evil. A little history lesson must be in order. Start with Byrd and you can fill in the blanks from there.


Ted Paulk

Yo Handy Jack

Clinton is no longer in office.

Trump called the virus a "Democrat Hoax".

Trump and Gosar are still saying the virus is flattening and not dangerous...

Over 130 000 DEAD Americans.

Now the Republican politicians want to end mail in ballots...even though we've used them for decades.

74% of Americans support DACA DREAMERS.


Trump is blatantly racist...

The times they are a changin.😏

Jack Handy

So once Clinton left office the impeachment doesn't count? Interesting as the left was celebrating their failed attempt saying that President Trump would have a permanent mark on his record as President because of that. He's also going to be the only President to defend a lame attempt at a phony impeachment and be reelected. Get your Kleenex ready for that day.

If you want to look at actual numbers and trends on the virus, it is flattening. Current stats as of this morning off the DHS website for Arizona show under 1.5% of the 7.3MM people in AZ have tested positive, and of that 1.5% that are/have been positive, over 98% survived. You can do the math yourself. The graphs show the same. More and more tests are being done which only drives down the mortality rate. Ultimately pretty much everybody will have it at some point. That's science.

President Trump tried to shutdown flights and foreign travel from hotspots and Creepy Joe and the rest of the left jumped up and down and accused him of being xenophobic. You can easily search that.

Mail in ballots should be ended in light of the recent uptick of democratic personnel being caught red handed trying to cheat with mail in ballots. Search the Heritage Foundations online database and you'll find 1,285 proven cases of ballot fraud and a majority of those resulted in convictions. Update the voter rolls and we can revisit the issue.

Do you have a source for your 74% claim of DACA support? You've yet to provide any backup when asked. I'm guessing this is another instance as I searched and can't find anything to corroborate your claim. Then again, facts never seem to be a real issue in debates regarding emotions.

As far as the Trump being racist thing, that's been disproved time and again. But you called out the distinguished Arizona State Representative who made the claim that President Trump has done the most for the black community, or something to that effect. Guess you know better. Another simple search would show that he's correct, I mean unless you base opinions on something other than facts, like the rates of employment.

Keep voting blue. It's worked well for Chiraq, and now NYC is taking a run at the title. Defund the police, take guns from law abiding citizens. What a great platform!


p.s. Nice to see you're still attempting your disparaging swipe at the disabled with your handy comment.

Ted Paulk

Jack...are you disabled...other than mentally?

You are wasting your time because, other than your last sentence I am.not reading your nonsense.

Jack Handy

Mr. Paulk,

Not surprising. Facts were included, so you lost interest when you couldn't substantiate your claims.

Again with the disabled and mentally disabled thing. If anybody should be worried about that, it's someone that thinks that Biden is a great candidate for another public office, seeing how he's done so much good already in his 40 plus years on the public payroll.

I've not made any of this personal, yet you keep going back to that well as I try to have a conversation with you. Facts really are liberal kryptonite.


Joel Sherwood

Now Ted, we have a Mr. Bruce who isn't very humble like Mr. Gosar. I work with 1 guy like this, in a group of dozen other ladies and gentlemen. Your right Mr. Paulk!

Ted Paulk

Senator Joe "Tailgunner Joe" McCarthy would be very proud of Gosar's stupid rant about Communism in Gila County.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Avoid obscene, hateful, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful.
Be Nice. No name-calling, racism, sexism or any sort of -ism degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article. Real names only!