25 April, 2018
Tuesday night's special election in Arizona's 8th congressional district determined whether Republicans would keep the seat vacated by former Rep. Trent Franks, the Republican who resigned past year after he was accused of harassment.
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.
Ahead of Tuesday's election, Democrats noted that a single-digit margin of victory for Lesko could indicate trouble in the fall for other Republicans in Arizona and across the country, especially considering Trump carried the 8th District by 21 points. "We really can't blame anything".
Republicans held on to a congressional seat in the Arizona special election, despite Democrats" hopes that a third upset in a row would boost momentum for a "Blue Wave' in the November midterms.
Lesko's victory only gives her the seat for the remainder of this year.
The Republican National Committee, National Republican Campaign Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund have collectively spent almost $1m to defend the reliably conservative seat. Of the more than 150,000 voters who turned in their ballots prior to election day, 75,253 were registered Republicans and only 43,372 were registered Democrats, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's office. She had a six percentage vote lead over Tipirneni, 53 percent to 47 percent. She was seen as a fresh Democratic face with relatively moderate views that could get support in the district. If Democrats enjoy the same enthusiasm gap in those races, Republicans' control of the House and Senate could be in jeopardy.
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As a candidate, Tipirneni outraised Lesko by nearly $200,000.
Castellanos was not the only one to think that a narrow vote margin could mean good news for Democrats in Arizona: FiveThirtyEight, a statistical analysis website, said an overperformance by Tipirneni of eight-plus points would "bode well for Democrats' chances to flip Sen". Add Republican Party as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Republican Party news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Groups including the Republican National Committee; the National Republican Congressional Committee; and the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, spent a combined more than $1 million for the GOP nominee.
"This is so awesome", Lesko said, shortly after unofficial results were announced.
Trump's first comment on the race came in early April through a Republican National Committee robocall to persuadable voters.
But both Democrats and Republicans will dissect the details of the contest - specifically the final margin between the two candidates. "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.
Tipirneni touted her strong showing in the race and vowed to fight on. Trump made a last-minute appeal on Tuesday, urging voters to support Lesko, who he was "Strong on Border, Immigration and Crime".