Home>Feature>Anthony Kern Joins CD8 Congressional Race

State Senator Anthony Kern speaking with the media at a press conference for the Arizona Freedom Caucus at the Arizona Capitol building in Phoenix, March 2, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Anthony Kern Joins CD8 Congressional Race

Sen. Tells Globe ‘You never know who a candidate is until he has a voting record’

By Ken Kurson, November 1, 2023 3:05 pm

I can tell I’m getting old because the references in my leads are all way past their sell-by date. So in a story about a third Republican candidate entering the CD8 race and a fourth considering doing so, I’ll resist the urge to quote another well-known Republican, Ted Nugent, who wrote the immortal words, “When in doubt, I whip it out / I got me a rock ‘n’ roll band, It’s a free-for-all.”

But it really is a free-for-all in the northern suburbs of Phoenix that comprise CD8. With Debbie Lesko’s surprise decision not to run for re-election, former candidate for AG, Abraham Hamadeh jumped into the race. He was joined by Blake Masters a week later.

On Monday night, Senator Anthony Kern, R-Peoria, declared his candidacy. And now, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Ben Toma, R-Peoria, has filed paperwork indicating his interest in the race.

In an interview today, Kern explained to the Arizona Globe why he has a shot compared to Masters and Hamadeh, who’ve both recently run statewide. Comparing his vote total to those two candidates and potential candidate Toma, Kern told the Globe, “If you go to LD27, the 2022 General Election data, I beat them all by about 2 percentage points. I think I beat all of them in each precinct except one, where one of them beat me by five votes. LD27 is a good chunk of CD8, so I still have a lot of work to do.”

The Democrats were well-prepared for Kern’s arrival. Immediately upon his announcement of his candidacy, the Arizona Mirror was ready with a story about a complaint filed by activist Joshua Gray accusing Kern of using funds from his Senate campaign committee, VoteKern, to pay for travel and lodging to the Jan. 6, 2021, demonstration at the Capitol. Peoria resident Gray is well known in the state as a Democratic activist — Republicans would probably use the word “gadfly.” One can glean his take on Jan. 6 from the way it’s described in his complaint as “A violent insurrection aimed at overthrowing legitimate election results at the United States Capitol.”

In speaking today with the Arizona Globe, Kern didn’t seem to think the complaint would amount to much. “I want to thank Josh Gray for getting my name out there,” said Kern.

In his prepared announcement, Kern wrote “I have been privileged to serve the people of Arizona throughout my career in public service as a law enforcement officer, Representative, and Senator. It is now my honor to continue fighting for our people as their representative in Congress.” Kern added that in Congress, he would be a “steady champion for conservative values.”

Asked what distinguishes him from others in the race, Kern told the Globe, “Two of the candidates do not live in the District,” Kern said, referring to Masters and Hamadeh. That’s insulting to a lot of the voters in the district. I’ve had a lot of voters call me and say, ‘What are they doing?’ So I decided to put my hat in the race. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, should Debbie Lesko ever resign. I am a principled, fighting conservative with a proven track record. You know what you’re gonna get with me. You do not know what you’re gonna get with at least two of the opponents who’ve jumped in. You do know with myself and Ben Toma. The other candidates are saying all the right stuff but you never know who a candidate is until he has a voting record.”

Kern told the Globe he intends to continue serving as the state senator while he runs for Congress.

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