Arizona’s Special Election May Be Close

“It has been decades since Phoenix’s western suburbs have seen a congressional election with any real suspense,” the Arizona Republic reports.

“Since 1977, only two people — Bob Stump and Trent Franks — have represented the area in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of the 8th Congressional District’s reputation as a Republican stronghold, Democrats haven’t even bothered to put a candidate on the ballot since 2012.”

“On Tuesday, voting ends in the special election to replace Franks, the veteran House Republican who resigned in December amid a sexual-misconduct scandal. Republican Debbie Lesko is the favorite to replace him because of her party’s 17-percentage-point registration advantage in the district. But at a time when independents, and even some Republicans, nationally are increasingly wary of the GOP, Democrat Hiral Tipirneni has mounted a serious challenge to Lesko.”

What to Watch In Arizona’s Special House Election

First Read: “Don’t bet on Democrats continuing their streak of special-election victories in districts/states Trump carried when Debbie Lesko (R) faces off against Hiral Tipirneni (D) on Tuesday in the race to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, (R-AZ).”

“But maybe the bigger story tomorrow, at least when it comes to judging if the political winds are still blowing at the Democrats’ backs, will be looking at the ultimate margin of Lesko vs. Tipirneni in this district Trump carried by 21 points in 2016. In the eight major contests of 2017 and 2018, Democrats have outperformed Hillary Clinton’s margin in these same districts/states by, on average, about 12 points… So Democrats keeping the race to single digits would match that average over-performance.”

Said the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman: “Really anything above ~41% in #AZ08 (R+13 PVI) would be consistent w/ Dems on track to win the House or a statewide AZ race.”

Trump Enlisted In Next Week’s Arizona Special Election

Washington Post: “Starting earlier this month, Republican voters in the western Phoenix suburbs have received robo-calls in which Trump warns that ‘illegal immigrants will pour right over your border’ if Democrats win the House. ‘Nancy Pelosi wants to send a liberal Democrat to Congress to represent you,’ Trump says in the call. ‘We can’t have that.’”

“Republican groups have spent more than $500,000 to boost Lesko… The involvement of the president and GOP leadership underscores that no race is a surefire win for the party in an unforgiving midterm year.”

RNC Spends Money In Supposedly Safe District

The RNC has put $281,250 into the special election to replace former Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), “the first financial commitment by either national party in a district that has voted reliably Republican since being drawn in 2011,” the Washington Post reports.

“The RNC declined to comment on the investment, but Arizona’s 8th District was not necessarily seen as a potential Democratic pickup. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won just 37% of the vote in the district — worse than her showing in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, which Democrat Conor Lamb  just won in a squeaker.”

Lesko Wins Special Election Primary in Arizona

Debbie Lesko (R) won the Republican primary race for the vacant Arizona congressional seat Tuesday night, “drawing on her deep ties to the area to defeat 11 challengers,” the Arizona Republic reports.

Lesko and Hirai Tipirneni (D) “will face off in an April 24 special general election. The race will settle who finishes the current two-year term for Trent Franks, who resigned in December after being accused of sexual misconduct by some of his female staffers.”

Lesko is favored since Donald Trump won the district by 21 points in 2016.

GOP Worries Sexting Scandal Could Cost a House Seat

“Republicans are fretting that a front-runner for an Arizona congressional seat — a married minister involved in a sexting scandal — will pull a Roy Moore and hand the seat to Democrats if he wins Tuesday’s special-election primary,” Politico reports.

“The seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Trent Franks — who resigned last December over his own sex scandal — should be an easy hold for Republicans.”

“But a bombshell report of nude photos and text messages exchanged between the candidate, former state Sen. Steve Montenegro, and a legislative staffer — published just a week before the election — has left GOP operatives worried that ‘it could be Alabama all over again,’ said Shiree Verdone, who ran Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2010 Senate race.”