Democrats test strength in deep-red Arizona special election

Arizona election is another Republican test in Trump country

Republican Debbie Lesko faced off against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni in a special election to replace Trent Franks, who served in the House of Representatives for 14 years until his resignation in December.

The district sprawling across western Phoenix suburbs included some of the most conservative areas of the red state, including the retirement communities of Sun City and the Glendale home of former GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, who never lost an election and campaigned for Lesko.

"We'd really like a change", he said.

The race was being watched as a potential test of Trump's popularity after surprising Democratic special election victories in Republican strongholds like Pennsylvania and Alabama. Tipirneni - or anyone else - can try to unseat her in November. According to The Washington Post, Republican Debbie Lesko is the favorite to replace [Franks] because of her party's 17-percentage-point registration advantage in the district.

The race, in Arizona's eighth district, was seen by some as a potential bellwether of an impending "blue wave" in November's midterm elections, but in this case, the GOP will retain control of the Congressional seat.

Speaking to supporters in Arizona on Tuesday, Tipirneni did not concede the race to Lesko, and said she was "not giving up" and planned to run for the seat again in November, win or lose.

"There are no moral victories in politics, but I'm celebrating tonight", Democratic strategist Andy Barr, who has deep Arizona ties, told TPM as the results rolled in.




Republicans came to Lesko's aid in hopes of avoiding another Democratic upset.

Lesko was endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus, though not every candidate endorsed by the hard-line conservative group joins its ranks. Add Republican Party as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Republican Party news, video, and analysis from ABC News. However, that shortfall was made up by outside Republican groups that pumped more than $1 million into the contest for a mix of media and turnout services. But the Democrat Tipirneni, has been doing well in the polls.

"This is so awesome", Lesko said, shortly after unofficial results were announced.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said about 19,000 voters had turned out to the 55 voting locations on Tuesday and more than 155,000 people participated in early voting.

Republican candidate and former Arizona state Sen.

Alex Castellanos, a political analyst with ABC News, told KTAR News 92.3 FM's Arizona's Morning News that the race "was tighter than it ought to be", emphasizing that the Republican Party had a 22-point point edge on registered voters in the district. "We can't have that", Trump says in the call, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, that went out to voters on April 6.

The call touted Lesko as a Republican in line with Trump on immigration and urged voters to get out and vote for her early. "If that happens, illegal immigrants will pour right over your border, bringing their drugs and their crime with them, right into your neighborhood, right into your back yard".

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