Former teacher and businesswoman Anne-Marie Ward’s effort to upset incumbent Congressman Paul Gosar has gotten more confrontational, with ballots in mailboxes across the sprawling district.

Ward has sent out flyers and taken out ads hitting Gosar for his voting record, including missed votes, failure to support President Donald Trump’s agenda, opposition to farm bill subsidies and a balanced budget amendment. She also blasted him for not attending the impeachment hearings in the House and not living in the district he represents. She asserted that he’s only gotten six bills passed and most of those centered on minor, local topics like naming a post office.

“Voters in AZ04 are tired of a do-nothing, career politician in Paul Gosar who has never lived in our district. This district is my home. My roots here run deep. Since I announced my candidacy, I’ve traveled over 45,000 miles and spoken with thousands of individuals to learn about their concerns and to fix the decades-old problems that plague our district.”

Gosar’s office has hit back, saying Ward has misstated or distorted his voting record, touting his endorsement by President Trump and dismissing her challenge.

“These lies need to be addressed,” said Penny Pew in a letter to members of the Payson Tea Party. “It’s not obvious who Anne-Marie Ward really is, with no voting record and no history of involvement with any conservative or Republican issues. She mailed a hit-piece flyer, and it is an interesting propaganda study.”

The issue-by-issue series of claims and rebuttals reflects the politics of one of the most heavily Republican congressional districts in the state, with a 28-point registration advantage for Republicans. The district stretches from the communities along the Colorado River all the way into Prescott and on into Rim Country.

Two Democrats are contending for a likely political suicide mission, given the district’s 28% Republican registration advantage. Delina DiSanto, a former nurse and health care consultant, came up just short of winning the Democratic nomination for the seat two years ago. She’s stressing a version of Medicare for All, improved school funding and an infrastructure/jobs program. Frequent candidate and former school principal Stu Starky also qualified for the ballot. He ran against Sen. John McCain in 2004, and the only issue his campaign website explores is a call to reduce the soaring national debt, which stood at $1 trillion even before the pandemic.

Ward has made repeated appearances in Payson. She has argued Republicans are losing the support of young people and must make a stronger case for capitalism and conservative policies while also tackling problems like soaring prescription drug costs. However, her effort to tag Gosar as not supportive enough of President Trump’s agenda is a tough sell given Trump’s endorsement of the incumbent congressman. Gosar ranked as the sixth most conservative member of Congress based on a vote analysis by GovTrack.

Ward has also criticized Gosar for not actually living in the district, although the law does not require a congressman to live in the district he or she represents. Gosar is registered to vote in an apartment in Prescott, but claims his Flagstaff home as his primary residence for the tax benefit. Gosar, a dentist, lived and practiced in Flagstaff before he was first elected to Congress in District 1. Facing a tough re-election challenge after redistricting made the seat a toss-up, Gosar shifted his residence to Prescott and ran successfully for the District 4 seat.

Contact the writer at paleshire@payson.com

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(1) comment

Mike White

She should run for a state office first to prove herself to the district voters. Maybe even start as a precinct committeeman and an activist supporter with the state GOP, then run as a state rep. She may be great (who knows), but Dr. Gosar is one of the best reps in Congress, and he works tirelessly on behalf of rural AZ with a long, proven track record.

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