National Spotlight On Arizona's 8th Congressional District As Special Election Nears Finish

By Bret Jaspers
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 - 8:02am
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 - 8:36am

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(Photo by Bret Jaspers - KJZZ)
Former State Sen. Debbie Lesko with Republican supporters in Sun City on Saturday.

The nation’s eyes will be on Arizona this week — and not just because teachers are walking out.

Tuesday’s special election in the conservative 8th Congressional District is now being looked at as another midterm bellwether, after special election shockers in Pennsylvania and Alabama.

Both candidates were out on Saturday to motivate their supporters.

Republican Debbie Lesko, a former state senator and the front-runner here, reminded her volunteers and staff how they felt when Democrats were in charge.

“We wanted to be back in the majority. So the same thing is happening on the other side,” she said. “Let us not take anything for granted. I take nothing for granted. We are in the fight of our lives. We are in the fight to save our country.”

Lesko, a former state lawmaker, is trying to continue Republican dominance in the district formerly held by Trent Franks. Franks had no Democratic challenger in the past two cycles, and Republicans have a 17-point voter registration advantage.

Early voting numbers show Republicans have turned in almost 49 percent of the ballots, Democrats about 28 percent and independents 23 percent. The candidate who actually received those votes will not be known until Tuesday evening after the polls close.

(Photo by Bret Jaspers - KJZZ)
Democrat Hiral Tipirneni in Glendale on Saturday.

Reps. David Schweikert and Martha McSally turned up to give Lesko a boost.

“We have got to win this election,” McSally said. In a comment that drew laughs, she added, “We need more Republican ovaries in Congress.”

McSally stressed that the margin of victory is important, lest pundits say a close result means Arizona is up for grabs this fall. McSally is running for U.S. Senate and her contest is one of the few in that chamber that Democrats have a chance of flipping.

Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, hoping for an election night upset, revved up her supporters at a high school auditorium.

She had Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton on hand, who is himself running for Congress in the 9th Congressional District. “

I don’t know anything about a ‘blue wave,’” he said. “All I know is that we have the best candidate right here in Hiral.”

Tipirneni will campaign Monday with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

“We are going to work together these next four days to bring it home,” Tipirneni said. “Not just for CD 8, and not just for Arizona, but for this entire nation. So thank you all so very much, and let’s get this done.”

Polls open Tuesday at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. for people who haven’t voted early.

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