SPOTLIGHT | AZ-8

Things Got Weird in the West Valley

The winner of the GOP primary Tuesday in Arizona’s 8th District will be heavily favored to win the special election.

FILE - In this March 4, 2015 file photo, Arizona House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro, R-Avondale, speaks during a legislative session at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix. Two former Republican Arizona lawmakers who are leading candidates to fill a vacant U.S. House seat are embroiled in controversy as Tuesday's special primary election looms. Former state Sen. Steve Montenegro reportedly received racy text messages from a Senate staffer who isn't his wife. Former state Sen. Debbie Lesko is under fire for transferring $50,000 from her old state Senate campaign fund to an independent group backing her congressional election bid.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
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Kyle Trygstad
Feb. 26, 2018, 5:36 a.m.

Within the past week, the race to replace former Rep. Trent Franks has become almost as weird as the disgraced congressman’s exit.

Nothing can match offering a congressional staffer millions to be a surrogate mother, but topless photo texts, campaign finance violation allegations, and a lawsuit threat have inserted a dose of nasty to Tuesday’s special election Republican primary, which will likely decide the next member from Arizona’s 8th District.

Former state Sens. Debbie Lesko and Steve Montenegro each have their share of national conservative endorsements, each had $101,000 entering the final two weeks of the race, and each is now dealing with 11th-hour allegations of impropriety that could hinder their chances at the seat. Former state Rep. Phil Lovas—a state cochairman for President Trump’s campaign—and nine others are vying for it as well.

Montenegro’s situation may be the most damaging given the reason for Franks’s resignation. He has sought to redirect attention away from the personal text messages the married father traded with a legislative staffer and to Lesko moving money out of her state campaign to a supportive super PAC.

Kyle Trygstad

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