GOP rallies behind Arizona primary winner in US House race - InfoNews

Current Conditions

0.1°C

GOP rallies behind Arizona primary winner in US House race

In this Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 photo, Dion Munoz, a 70-year-old retired aircraft mechanic from Long Island, N.Y., now living in Sun City, Ariz., talks about the 8th congressional district contest to replace Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned after acknowledging he had discussed surrogacy with two female staffers. Allegations of impropriety against the top candidates were on voters' minds. Munoz said he voted for former state Sen. Debbie Lesko via mail-in ballot because "I didn't get good vibes about (former state Sen. Steve) Montenegro." (AP Photo/Anita Snow)
February 28, 2018 - 3:03 PM

PHOENIX - Arizona Republicans who slugged it out in a 12-way primary for an open Congressional seat in a race tinged by sexting and charges of campaign fund irregularities set aside their differences to focus on the general election in April.

Debbie Lesko, a former state senator who won the primary, was already working Wednesday on her general election campaign to replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned in December under pressure from House Speaker Paul Ryan. Franks acknowledged he discussed surrogacy with two female staffers and one told The Associated Press he offered her $5 million to carry his child.

"I think that the voters knew me," Lesko said as she prepared to take a call from Ryan. "I've been working and volunteering in the northwest valley for the last 20 years."

The candidates Lesko beat in the 8th Congressional District that spans much of the western Phoenix suburbs have already rallied behind her, even former state Sen. Steve Montenegro, who was dogged in the last part of the race by revelations he received sex-tinged messages and an "unsolicited" topless photo from a legislative aide.

In his Tuesday night concession speech, Montenegro told his supporters that winning the seat for the GOP was essential, that "our shared commitment to this country is what unites us and it is what will lead our party to victory in April and again in November!"

Lesko pulled in about 36 per cent of the vote, with former state Rep. Phil Lovas and Montenegro each netting 24 per cent and the other nine candidates getting single digits. That was a decisive win for Lesko, and the state Republican Party immediately got behind her.

Lesko had been accused of improperly using her state campaign funds to support her congressional bid — a charge she denied.

In the end, the charges against her and the revelations involving Montenegro may have had little impact on the outcome. The state relies heavily on mail-in ballots, most of which had been completed before the last-minute allegations.

As state senator, Lesko worked to overhaul the state's police and fire system in 2016. She was also the primary backer of last year's massive school voucher expansion, now on hold after opponents collected enough signatures to put it on the November ballot. She strongly opposes abortion.

"I'm not going to change my values," she said. "I believe that parents should be able to choose the best education for their child no matter what zip code they live in."

The Democratic winner, emergency room physician Hiral Tipirneni, said she believes she can defeat Lesko. The district hasn't elected a Democrat since the early 1980s. Republicans got about two-thirds of the votes in the special election primary.

Her opponent, Brianna Westbrook, tweeted Tuesday night that she's not giving up her quest for the seat and pointed to her opponent's heavy spending.

Tipirneni rolled out a YouTube video to introduce herself to voters, focusing on how to pronounce her name and featuring two of her children.

"I may have a funny name," she said, "but I'm very serious about making sure every Arizonan has access to quality, affordable health care."

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

  • Popular vernon News
  • Comments
  • Police search for missing Kelowna woman
    KELOWNA - Kelowna RCMP are asking for the public's help in finding a missing 27-year-old woman. RCMP say Joenna Saunders was last heard from on Nov. 27. She was reported missing on Dec.
  • Girl opens Christmas present she gave to boy when she dumped him in 1971
    ST. ALBERT, Alta. - A man in Edmonton who made international headlines for holding onto a wrapped Christmas gift from a high-school girlfriend who dumped him nearly 50 years ago finally learned wh
  • Water quality advisory in effect in North Okanagan
    NORTH OKANAGAN - The district has issued a water quality advisory for the North Okanagan. The Regional District of North Okanagan Silver Star Water Utility in conjunction with Interior Healt
  • Kamloops Fire Rescue respond to McDonalds deep fryer fire
    KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops McDonalds was temporarily closed last night due to a small deep fryer fire. Kamloops Fire Rescue arrived at the McDonalds location in Sahali at about 11:30 p.m. last ni
  • Vernon fast food restaurant held up by man with syringe
    VERNON - RCMP are on the hunt for a suspect after a robbery at a Vernon restaurant earlier this week. A man threatened staff with an allegedly contaminated needle on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at Wr
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile