State Rep Kelly Townsend: Sen Andy Biggs’ Leadership Style Punitive

Yesterday, State Representative Kelly Townsend revealed a dark side of Senate President Andy Biggs. During a guest opinion on Sunday Square Off, the two-term legislator from Arizona Legislative District 16 disclosed that Biggs’ leadership style was to punish lawmakers who refused to get in line with his political agenda and leadership.

Townsend tied the comments to her 2015 House vote in which the legislature voted to limit Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) – a vote she regrets. Townsend herself, is a widow with children representing a district adjacent to the district represented by Biggs.

In her comments, she stated, “I think it’s important to remember whose bill this was. This was our senate president’s bill. Part of that decision is the fact that [Biggs] has very well trained us. He’s punitive in his nature, and if we didn’t follow along, we would suffer the consequences.”

The interview, which is posted on the 12 News website, also posted the following comments:

When pressed further about her disagreements with Biggs, Townsend accused the 14-year state legislator and current congressional candidate of fostering a culture at the state capitol she described as “a heavy-handed, top down, ramming things through in the middle of the night approach.”

“It is a culture many of us are trying to change,” Townsend said.

The article continues:

Townsend also accused Biggs of refusing to communicate with her and preventing bills she sponsored from progressing through the legislature for two years. Townsend said she believed Biggs’ actions were payback because she gave a radio interview in support of a bill Biggs opposed in 2013.

“[In 2013] He would refuse to meet with me. He didn’t answer any of my calls or texts. He killed all my bills. Finally I cornered him and asked for a conversation, and he said I should have never called into the radio station in the first place to talk about that bill,” Townsend said. “When it comes to leadership, Biggs, I don’t know he knew how to be a leader. Anyone can be punitive and act like that. But in terms of being a leader, it takes more than just being a jerk.”

This revelation draws into question Biggs’ temperament and leadership style as the potential nominee for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.

Biggs’ spokesman, Adam Deguire, the former Chief of Staff to Congressman Matt Salmon who is now part of the political hand-off arrangement between Salmon and Biggs, acknowledged Biggs’ unpopularity with the mainstream media on issues such as TANF.

Senator Andy Biggs has not made an appearance on Sunday Square Off since February 27, 2011 and failed to show up last week for a debate on KAET’s Horizon.

Here is the video clip from Sunday Square Off:

Why Is Andy Biggs Dodging Sunday Square Off?

Everyone knows that if you’re running for a major political office in Arizona you make the time to appear on local political shows like Horizon, Politics Unplugged and Sunday Square Off. It’s part of the process of getting in front of voters who pay attention to politics.

Brahm Resnik’s Sunday Square Off is one of those shows that candidates and elected officials don’t turn down. Brahm is the type of political reporter who asks tough questions and hones in on political motivations. He can be a feisty interviewer and every Republican should experience a sit-down with him if offered.

This last Sunday, Brahm interviewed two of the four Republican candidates seeking the GOP nomination in Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District. Former County Supervisor Don Stapley and conservative business leader Christine Jones each had their interviews with Brahm. The prior week, three-term State Representative Justin Olson also made his pitch.

During Brahm’s intro to the Stapley interview, he said that all four Republican CD-5 candidates had been invited to come on Sunday Square Off but as Brahm noted, “Andy Biggs though, had never responded to my invitation.”

Any professional political consultant worth their weight in gold knows that earned media is the best media, even if it means a tough interview. Consultants advise their candidates to embrace these local political show opportunities whenever they arise and take advantage of the chance to toughen and improve their debate and public relations skills.

The CD-5 race will be one of the toughest Republican primary races in 2016. Andy Biggs knows this and that’s why he hired one of Arizona’s most prominent consulting firms to get him across the finish line. So why would Andy Biggs dodge the opportunity to appear on Sunday Square Off?

Andy Biggs Confronted

photo courtesy TV-12 News

No one seems to remember the last time Andy Biggs appeared on Sunday Square Off let alone appeared on any other weekly political show. Our best research indicates that Biggs made an appearance on the show in late February, 2011 to discuss abolishing Medicaid.

Senator Biggs may be camera shy or perhaps uncomfortable with Brahm Resnik or maybe he would rather not discuss tough issues like the recent KidsCare legislation, but that doesn’t explain why he also skipped a recent East Valley candidate forum in CD-5.

Our guess is that the Biggs campaign is maintaining a low profile in an effort to avoid causing more controversy for itself. Dodge the media, avoid answering hard questions, avoid saying anything controversial and hope for an easy win.

When you’ve never had any tough electoral challenges in the 14 years you’ve been a politician, it doesn’t make you prepared or even qualified for a promotion to higher office and that’s where the work gets even harder. It’s time to answer the hard questions.

Sonoran Alliance’s Shane Wikfors on Sunday Square Off Asking Tom Horne to Exit AG Race

ICYMI, here is my recent appearance on TV-12’s Sunday Square Off discussing the Arizona Attorney General’s race and why Tom Horne should exit.

Special thanks to Brahm Resnik for having me on the show to discuss several political news items!