Republican Debbie Lesko claimed victory in Tuesday’s special election in Arizona. It is not a surprise that Lesko defeated her Democratic opponent, physician Hiral Tipirneni, in the special election to replace former Representative Trent Franks in the 8th congressional district. Arizona’s 8th has consistently voted Republican in the previous four presidential election cycles, voting for President Trump by over 20 points. However, despite this, Lesko’s victory was much narrower than Republican operatives hoped it would be; Lesko defeated Tipirneni by a mere 5 percentage points, a much lower number than previously anticipated. These results fall in line with other elections around the country this year, where Democrats are either winning races they were not expected to win or significantly narrowing the margins when they were not expected to perform well.
Running in what would be considered an average red district, Lesko was endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus, a staunch and hardline conservative group, and President Trump himself. This makes the close margin of victory all the more worrisome for Republicans. “These election results ought to startle Republicans in Arizona and nationally out of bed!,” a prominent Republican donor said. There are a couple of possible explanations for Lesko’s performance, the first being the possibility that the platform she ran on did not properly resonate with voters. The former Arizona state senator ran on the idea of a secure border (touting President Trump’s idea of a physical border wall between the U.S. and Mexico) and the Republicans’ tax overhaul. Another possibility is money; in last week’s roundup, we talked about how the amount which a candidate fundraises could mean the difference between a district turning red or blue, and this election was no exception. The Democratic challenger Tipirneni raised $740,000 through April 4, while Lesko only raised $564,000. The difference between those two numbers undoubtedly made a difference in their respective campaigns’ level of outreach.
In other news coming out of the southwest, Represenatative Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5) was removed from the primary ballot by the Colorado Supreme Court earlier this week. The court ruled that Lamborn, who has been serving in Congress for over 10 years, did not follow proper protocol when gathering petitions for his ballot. According to the court, Lamborn’s campaigner, who was gathering the petitions, did not live in Colorado at the time, thus rendering the signatures he solicited null and void. One of Lamborn’s attorneys told the press, “We believe, quite frankly, denying a sitting congressman the right to participate in a primary election where the residency of the circulator denies the otherwise valid petition signatures is unconstitutional,” going on to explain that the campaign will absolutely be appealing the case in federal district court.
If the court’s decision is not overturned, this means that the six-term congressman would not be eligible for re-election in November. This scenario would lead to a battle between two other Republican candidates: state Senator Owen Hill and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn. Hill has raised a formidable amount of money and boasts an endorsement from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Lamborn’s absence from the primary ballot would likely not have an impact on the race’s rating, which currently stands at “Solid Republican,” according to the Cook Political Report. Colorado’s primary will be held on June 26.
Did You Know...
…that HUPAC prioritizes its contributions based on three committees of jurisdiction in the House and two committees of jurisdiction in the Senate. The committees in the House are Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Workforce. The committees in the Senate are Finance and Health and Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). So if you wonder why HUPAC may not be giving to your hometown congressional member, they may just not be sitting on a committee that can help agents and brokers! It’s never too late to start contributing, click here to make your contribution today!