On Tuesday, February 27, the Arizona special House primary election will take place on the heels of a sexual harassment scandal that rocked the state’s Republican party, leaving a typically Republican seat open. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) resigned from the House of Representatives over sexual misconduct allegations in December and, in turn, left his Arizona’s 8th congressional district without a representative in Congress.
Twelve Republicans and two Democrats will be on the ballot Tuesday—each competing for a chance to represent their party in the Arizona general election on April 24.
According to Ballotpedia, political veterans running for the vacancy on the GOP ballot include Steve Montenegro, Senator Debbie Lesko, and Representatives Phil Lovas and Bob Stump. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has publicly backed Montenegro.
All the veteran Republicans on the ballot have publicly pledged their loyalty to Trump and his agenda, per The Washington Post.
Democrats running include Dr. Hiral Tipirneni and Brianna Westbrook, neither of which have prior experience in public office.
Though the Arizona district hasn’t seen Democratic candidates run in at least the last two elections, 2018’s candidates represent the kind of diverse set of nominees other voters in specific districts have recently cast their ballots for.
Tipirneni is an Indian-born doctor who stands for common sense gun reform, using Trump’s wall funds for “other border security measures” and reproductive rights for women. Westbrook is a transgender woman who says she wants to represent the working class by proposing to give constituents access to affordable healthcare, salary raises to teachers, and Medicare and Social Security protections.
Still, Democrats face an uphill battle winning the seat over a Republican. Trump turned Arizona red during the 2016 presidential election by about 3.5 percentage points over Hillary Clinton. In the 8th district specifically, Trump won by a margin of +12.1. And Franks, the former seat holder who shared the majority of Trump’s views, did not have a Democratic challenger the last two elections.
Montenegro, who is one of the Republican frontrunners, may tighten the race, however. The candidate faces (and denies) allegations that he had a relationship with a Senate staffer. Arizona’s local News 12 and The Arizona Republic reported on a text exchange between Montenegro and the staffer, which included a topless photo of her.
Each vote on Tuesday will be crucial to Republicans retaining power in the House and for the state’s controversial voter ID requirements.
If you live in Arizona and want to vote, find out your polling place here.