The US House is set to hold a censure vote against Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar on Wednesday in reaction to a photoshopped anime video he posted on Twitter in which he is shown killing New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and threatening President Joe Biden.
While this is the highest-profile incident involving Gosar – and one that could cost him his seats on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the House Committee on Natural Resources – it’s FAR from the only time Gosar has drawn negative attention to himself during his decade in Congress.
* Following the white supremacist rally and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the summer of 2017, Gosar suggested that the gathering was, in fact, “created by the left” and organized by “an Obama sympathizer.” He also suggested that George Soros, the liberal billionaire, had something to do with funding the neo-Nazi rally. “You know George Soros is one of those people that actually helps back these individuals,” Gosar told Vice News.
* The day after Arizona Sen. John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer, Gosar’s chief of staff sent a text message to a lawyer for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey expressing the congressman’s interest in being appointed to the seat. “To anyone who uses this as an opportunity to speculate or fan the rumor mill: Washington DC’s obsession with this when there is no issue to be discussed is disgraceful,” said a spokesman for the governor.
* When several Democrats announced their plans to bring “Dreamers” – children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States – to then-President Donald Trump’s 2018 State of the Union speech, Gosar said that he had asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well as the Capitol Police to “consider checking identification . . . and arresting any illegal aliens in attendance.”
* In a 2018 congressional hearing with former FBI agent Peter Strzok, Gosar told the witness: “This morning I watched – by the way I’m a dentist. I read body language very well.”
* In 2018, six of Gosar’s nine siblings appeared in ads for his Democratic opponent. “Paul’s absolutely not working for his district,” one of his brothers said in the commercial. In response, Gosar offered up this: “These disgruntled Hillary suppporters (sic) are related by blood to me but like leftists everywhere, they put political ideology before family. Lenin, Mao and Kim Jung (sic) Un would be proud.”
* In September, Gosar, who has been a fierce backer of Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, called for a re-run of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona. “My suggestion is that we actually have some hearings and look over this batch and set a new election for Biden and Trump before the end of the year,” he said.
There’s more, but you get the idea.
While House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has not publicly condemned Gosar’s decision to post the photoshopped video, the Arizona Republican’s penchant for controversy – and unwillingness to play nice with party leaders – has cost him in the past. Gosar was passed over for the top spot on the Oversight Committee in June 2020 despite being the committee’s most senior Republican. The same thing happened to Gosar later that year when, despite again being the most senior Republican on the Natural Resources Committee, he was passed over for the top ranking job.
At the same time, despite all of that controversy, Gosar has easily beaten back primary challenges. As the Arizona Republic noted in 2018: “Two years of controversial comments and stinging attack ads from most of his siblings seem to have done little to dent Gosar’s support in Arizona’s most-Republican-leaning district.” In 2020, Gosar won the Republican primary with 63% of the vote against a challenger who said Gosar was not supportive enough of Trump.
Could being stripped of his committee assignments – as seems likely with Democrats in control of the House – change how district voters see Gosar? Or could it encourage an ambitious Republican to make a primary challenge in 2022 – arguing that Gosar is no longer able to best serve the district?