Former State Senator Debbie Lesko was able to fight off a strong push from Democratic newcomer Hiral Tipirneni to win Tuesday’s special election for Arizona’s 8th District, according to projections from the Associated Press.
The special election happened Tuesday to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned in December amid sexual harassment allegations.
The U.S. House seat has been held by Republicans since the early 1980s.
Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency room physician and a cancer research advocate, had hoped to change that trend, but fell short in Tuesday’s vote.
Dr. Tipirneni told ABC15 her campaign is not conceding yet. Instead, they'll wait until all the ballots are counted before making any official moves.
But however the cards stack in this race, Dr. Tipirneni says she already feels like a winner.
"Look, win or lose, it's a victory. It's a victory. Look at this district. Loo at what has come alive. The energy and the momentum. It's a win, either way, any way you look at it," Tipirneni said.
Lesko represented parts of the district since 2009 and has an extremely strong base of support in a district Franks had locked up since 2003.
Tipirneni and Lesko disagreed on many hot-button topics, including expanding Medicare coverage and border security.
Lesko backs the president's tax cuts and is pushing his border wall proposal.
"I support securing the border, and part of that is paying for and putting up a border wall where it makes sense," Lesko said. "She [Tipirneni] is totally opposed and is on record of opposing any money going toward the border wall. This is not what our constituents want."
National Republican groups spent big to back Lesko, pouring cash into the suburban Phoenix district for television and mail ads and phone calls to voters to ensure her victory. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy flew in for a fundraiser last week.
Lesko also said she welcomes the spending from national GOP organizations.
National Democratic groups didn’t commit money to ads in the race, but in recent weeks, some progressive groups spent to back Tipirneni, and she ran non-stop TV ads in the last week of the election.