Latest: Lesko wins GOP primary for Arizona US House seat - InfoNews

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Latest: Lesko wins GOP primary for Arizona US House seat

This undated photo shows candidate Hiral Tipirneni, one of two Democrats running in the 8th Congressional District's special election on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, in Arizona. The leading Republicans among a dozen candidates in the GOP stronghold 8th Congressional District that covers much of the western Phoenix suburbs include two former state senators, two former state House members and a talk radio host who pulled in 29 percent of the vote in a 2016 primary challenge to Franks. Two Democrats are seeking their party's nomination, hoping to pull out a longshot win in the April 27 general election. (Celina Medina via AP)
February 27, 2018 - 9:10 PM

PHOENIX - The Latest on a special primary election Tuesday in Arizona's 8th Congressional District (all times local):

10:05 p.m.

Former state Sen. Debbie Lesko has won the Republican primary race to replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks.

Lesko pulled out a strong victory Tuesday evening over 11 other GOP candidates and becomes the immediate front-runner in the April general election. Lesko had 36 per cent of the vote over former state Sen. Steve Montenegro with 24 per cent.

The Associated Press declared her the victor after analyzing the election night returns.

The Democratic primary was won by emergency room physician Hiral Tipirneni.

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9:30 p.m.

Steve Montenegro has conceded to fellow former state Sen. Debbie Lesko in the Republican primary race in the 8th Congressional District.

Montenegro told supporters at a Goodyear, Arizona, sports bar that the results fell short of what they hoped but that their "shared commitment to this country" will lead to a Republican general election victory in April.

Lesko was leading with 36 per cent to 24 per cent for Montenegro in the 12-way GOP primary. The Associated Press has not yet declared a winner in the Republican race.

The Democratic primary was won by emergency room physician Hiral Tipirneni.

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8:25 p.m.

Hiral Tipirneni has won the Democratic primary in a special election to replace an Arizona congressman who stepped down while facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

Tuesday night's victory means Tipirneni moves onto the April 24 general election against whoever wins the Republican primary. The GOP nominee is a strong favourite to win the seat in the Republican stronghold covering much of the western Phoenix suburbs.

Tipirneni is an emergency-room physician who got support from former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. She beat Brianna Westbrook, who became involved in politics several years ago as a transgender woman who argued for a Phoenix policy that would protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination.

In all, about 101,000 early ballot votes were initially posted by Maricopa County elections officials.

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8 p.m.

Former state Sen. Debbie Lesko is leading the early returns in the Republican primary race to replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks.

The initial batch of votes posted about an hour after polls closed Tuesday evening showed Lesko with 36 per cent of the vote. Former state Sen. Steve Montenegro was trailing with 24 per cent of the vote and other candidates farther behind.

A dozen Republicans are running in their party's primary in the heavily Republican district that covers much of the western Phoenix suburbs.

In the Democrats primary, emergency room physician Hiral Tipirneni had 59 per cent of the early vote and Brianna Westbrook was well behind with 41 per cent.

In all, about 101,000 early ballot votes were initially posted by Maricopa County elections officials.

The winners will face off in a general election April 24.

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4 p.m.

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office says there have been a few minor hiccups at voting stations in Arizona's 8th Congressional District race in the primary to replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks.

Communications director Murphy Hebert said Tuesday that one ballot centre in the suburbs west of Phoenix initially lacked the paper ballots needed to cast votes in person. But she says poll workers there still received completed ballots that were mailed to people's homes.

She says that printers didn't initially work at several other voting locations, but the problems were ironed out.

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3:40 p.m.

The Arizona Secretary of State's office says about 100,000 early ballots in the 8th Congressional District primary have been counted so far. Officials estimate that another 30,000 ballots will be cast at voting stations before the end of the day.

Press spokesman Matt Roberts says that officials expect as many as 85,000 to 90,000 of the final votes cast will be for one of the dozen Republican candidates vying in the primary to replace U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned last year. There are two candidates in the Democratic primary for the seat.

Roberts says that the early ballots were mailed out 29 days ago. Of those not already mailed in, many were delivered to polling stations in person.

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3:30 p.m.

A Republican candidate for an open U.S. House seat says he made an "honest mistake" when he handed one of his election pamphlets to a voter as he left a polling place.

Phil Lovas says he was walking out after voting Tuesday morning and handed the woman a "palm card." An ABC-15 news crew caught the exchange on video.

It's illegal in Arizona to conduct "electioneering" within 75 feet of a polling place.

Lovas is one of 12 Republicans and two Democrats running in the primary to replace former Rep. Trent Franks.

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7:21 a.m.

Polls are open for a special primary election in Arizona's 8th Congressional District in metro Phoenix.

Voters will be choosing nominees to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The heavily Republican district includes suburbs such as Peoria and Sun City.

A dozen candidates are running in the Republican primary. Two Democrats are seeking their party's nomination, hoping for a longshot win in the April 24 general election.

Election officials say nearly 100,000 early ballots were counted as of Monday, including over 65,000 Republicans and over 34,000 Democrats.

Results will start to be released an hour after the polls close at 7 p.m.

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12:15 a.m.

Sex-related and campaign funding allegations involving several top candidates have captured much of the attention in the Republican primary to replace a U.S. congressman from Arizona who resigned amid charges of sexual misconduct last year.

A former aide to ex-Rep. Trent Franks told The Associated Press he pressed her to carry his child as a surrogate and offered her $5 million.

The top favourites to replace him include former state Sen. Steve Montenegro and former state Sen. Debbie Lesko.

Montenegro is a married father and Christian minister who acknowledged last week that a former Senate aide had sent him texts and an unsolicited topless photo.

Several allegations of illegal campaign funding have been levelled against Lesko, who has denied wrongdoing.

It's unknown how much of an impact any of the allegations will have Tuesday because the state relies heavily on mail-in ballots completed before the revelations surfaced.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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