Political affiliation: Republican
Position sought: U.S. representative in 3rd District
Career: Teacher, minister, small business owner
Jeffrey Zink, whose presence at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol has drawn national attention, is running a longshot campaign against Rep. Ruben Gallego.
Zink was present at the Jan. 6 insurrection with his son, Ryan Zink, who faces federal charges for obstruction and trespassing as a result. Zink has said he and his son were peacefully documenting the breach of the Capitol and never entered the building.
In a New York Times article, Zink said he “absolutely” would do it again. “Godly men and godly women need to stand up,” he said.
Zink also has received attention for promoting a conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 pandemic was a “bioweapon meant to convert the United States to socialism.”
The Republican is running against Rep. Ruben Gallego to represent a redrawn district that covers central and south Phoenix, west Tempe and parts of Glendale. The district has a diverse population, with nearly two thirds identifying as Latino. Gallego won his last election, in 2020, with 77% of the vote.
Zink said he is confident that Latino voters will be drawn to his conservative principles and religious ideals. He described himself as an ordained minister who wants the U.S. to return to its Christian principles and characterized the campaign as a contest between “good and evil.”
Zink has worked in curriculum development at Grand Canyon University, a Christian university, where he also has taught as an adjunct instructor. He said he is an ordained minister, an NCAA basketball official and a diving instructor. He previously was business development manager for Dual Fuel in Chandler, a natural gas company.
If elected, he said he will focus on infrastructure improvements, public safety, quality education and Second Amendment freedoms.
Zink has been endorsed by just one organization, AZ MAGA, a conservative group that denies the validity of the 2020 election. He has not been endorsed by the Republican Party.
“One of the reasons why (the party) is afraid of supporting me or having anything to do with me is because of my J-6 ties,” he said, referring to the insurrection. “Now the thing is, the FBI has cleared me of all wrongdoing. But my son is facing 22 years in federal penitentiary.”
Zink talked about his campaign and priorities in an interview for Cronkite News.
Q: Why are you interested in this job?
Zink said his college football career at Texas Tech University ended when he fractured his neck, and for the next 40 years, he lived with daily migraine headaches. Doctors didn’t help, he said, but his faith in God did.
“On Dec. 24 of 2020, at 3 o’clock in the morning, I prayed a different prayer. This prayer was, ‘Father, I don’t want to live this life any longer. However, whatever you want me to do, wherever you want me to go, I will do that. And I will be your faithful servant.’ As you’re sitting in front of me, so did God appear before me that night at 3 o’clock. He said, ‘I’m going to break your headaches. I’m going to restore your health, and I’m going to send you to Congress to represent my people.’”
Q: What in your past work, political or volunteer experience makes you the best candidate?
“I’m not a politician. More than anything else, I understand businesses.”
His religious principles also make him the best candidate to represent Arizonans, he said.
“Being an ordained minister, I’m going to reestablish our biblical principles that our founding fathers base this country on.”
Q: What are the major issues facing Arizona?
Arizona needs to do more to attract manufacturing jobs. District 3 lacks manufacturing companies, he said.
“Everybody has to drive 20 or 30 minutes outside of this area in order to go to work.”
Q: What will be your top priorities if elected?
Zink said he would work to improve security along the U.S.-Mexico border and lower taxes, but much of his focus is on individual freedoms.
“Thomas Jefferson had a statement, or a quote, that is absolutely true today: ‘If government fears the people, we have freedom. But when people fear government, we have tyranny.’ Right now, the people are fearing the government. The government is trying to manipulate and tell people what to do in a free society. And this is now called tyranny.”
Q: How will you work to improve bipartisanship in politics?
“I find common ground with people every day, and it is my job to represent the people of Congressional District 3. There are some Democrats that are waking up to the fact that the Democratic Party’s agenda is what is tearing our great country apart. We need conservative Christian values back in Washington, D.C.,” Zink said in a follow-up email.
Q: Do you have any concerns about the security of our elections?
Zink said he is the only congressional candidate who worked in the Republican-led Arizona Senate audit of Maricopa County votes cast in the 2020 presidential election.
“I was actually there. I’m the only one that can say I know for sure (what the audit process looks like), because I was there and saw it firsthand. I’m not like a lot of the other candidates that just get reports and get information from somebody else second-hand.”
Zink said that he observed irregularities while working on the audit, which was conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida firm with no elections experience that was hired by the state Senate.
“I know that there’s something wrong because, working the audit, I found things very nefarious, like 10 different types of ballots,” Zink said – referring to discredited claims that ballots were of different shades of color and weight, affecting how they were counted.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, found no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform concluded that after six months and nearly $7 million dollars spent, “Cyber Ninjas’ final audit report failed to find any fraud, contrary to the conspiracy theories from the audit’s backers.”
Q. What is a personal challenge you need to overcome?
Overcoming disbelief in his campaign.
“The fact that I’m in better shape than I was five years ago is another testament to God healing me. When I become a congressman, I will have literally done this through God’s hand and no one else.”
Q. Please share a quote or advice that you live by.
“Love your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind.”
Q. What should be done, if anything, about border security?
What’s happening on the border is a crisis, Zink said.
“We need to put up a wall,” he said, and immigrants should be required to stay in their own countries until they are vetted and allowed to enter the U.S. legally.
Q. What should the state or federal government be doing to mitigate the ongoing drought and address Arizona’s water issues?
Zink views groundwater as a natural resource that should be used to create more industry and more jobs.
“We could create jobs here. We could literally make (Arizona) a water paradise if we would just tap into (groundwater), but people don’t want to.”
A 2018 report by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that Arizona’s groundwater levels are being depleted rapidly. In addition, using groundwater, which is a limited resource, can have negative impacts on the environment.