Trump endorses Schweikert in Republican race for Congress

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U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz.
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz.

Former President Donald Trump gave Rep. David Schweikert's cash-strapped campaign a gift Thursday with an endorsement over two other Republicans seeking to replace the six-term incumbent.

In a post on Truth Social, Trump hailed Schweikert, R-Ariz., as "a tireless advocate" for Arizona and a "Principled Conservative."

Trump's words stand in contrast to the "Shady Schweikert" moniker that business executive Elijah Norton has sought to hang on him throughout their Republican primary race — a reference to Schweikert's 11 ethics violations in the House of Representatives.

Trump's endorsement gives Schweikert a boost among the Republican voters who will settle the primary, which also includes Josh Barnett, a vocal Trump supporter.

It also represents perhaps Trump's closest dealing with Schweikert, who rarely appeared alongside the former president during his Arizona appearances.

"A Principled Conservative, David worked with me to Cut Taxes, Eliminate Job-Killing Regulations, and Deliver Unprecedented Economic Growth and Prosperity for All Americans," Trump wrote.

"David fights to Secure our Border, Restore American Energy Independence, Defend the Second Amendment, and Support our Brave Military & Veterans."

In a statement, Schweikert said he was "honored."

"During President Trump's presidency, I had the privilege to work with him to pass historic tax cuts into law and usher in one of the strongest economies in recent history," he said. "I'm honored to have his endorsement."

The Norton campaigns was not immediately available for comment.

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Barnett said he viewed the endorsement as a joke and alluded to Schweikert's vote to accept Arizona's electoral results on Jan. 6, 2021, although he voted to set aside Pennsylvania's.

"I actually thought it was a joke when it was initially brought to my attention," he said in a tweet.

Schweikert is "still going down," he wrote. "There's nothing Schweikert has done that President Trump put out there that I wouldn't have done or supported … except I would never stab him in the back with a YES vote to accept the AZ (electors) slate (on Jan. 6, 2021) or vote for $40 Billion to Ukraine while Americans suffer!"

Trump noted Schweikert has his "Complete and Total" endorsement. Trump's backing helps in the GOP primary in the new 1st Congressional District that covers the northeast Valley and reaches into north-central Phoenix. But it could complicate Schweikert's standing in a district that is, on paper, Arizona's most evenly divided when it was drawn late last year.

That may be a worthwhile trade for Schweikert in a political year already showing signs of Republican motivation and anemic approval ratings for Democratic President Joe Biden.

Democrats Jevin Hodge and Adam Metzendorf are vying for the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 2 primary.

Schweikert entered April with just $439,000 in cash compared with Norton's $2.5 million. Schweikert's cash total was on the low end of House incumbents facing potentially competitive primary or general-election challenges.

Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at ronald.hansen@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Trump endorses Rep. David Schweikert in Arizona CD 1