Why do I give you this DailyKos Elections news, especially since most of you don’t live in Arizona?
Because it’s…funny. And ever so, um, weirdly sexually harassment-y. And then, at the bottom (in a number of ways than one), is Bob Stump. Read on:
• AZ-08: Hey! Ho! Lesko! On Tuesday, former state Sen. Debbie Lesko decisively won the GOP primary for the April 24 special election to succeed scandal-tarred ex-Rep. Trent Franks. Lesko took first place with 36 percent of the vote, while former state Rep. Phil Lovas and former state Sen. Steve Montenegro each grabbed 24 percent. Former state Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump, who raised and spent very little money (and listed his address as in Utah, for some reason), barely registered with just 5 percent. This suburban Phoenix seat backed Trump 58-37, but it’s been an unpredictable special election season, and physician and Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni is worth keeping an eye on.
This contest started and ended with scandal. Franks suddenly resigned in December, and the public soon learned that he had, astonishingly, asked two female staffers to bear his children, and even offered to pay them $5 million to do so. But Franks didn’t stay out the spotlight for long, and within days, he endorsed Montenegro, who used to work for him. Montenegro also resigned from the state Senate to run, a move he probably regrets now. Lesko also left the Senate to run for this seat, even though she was in line to lead the chamber, and she picked up an endorsement from former Gov. Jan Brewer. Lovas also gave up his post at the national Small Business Association to run.
Things went off the rails a week from Election Day when the local NBC affiliate got hold of a series of flirtatious text messages sent between a cell phone associated with Montenegro and a legislative staffer. Among other things, the staffer sent Montenegro, who is married and a church minister, a topless photo of herself, which didn’t seem to bother him in the least. Montenegro initially blasted the story as “a despicable example of … tabloid trash,” but admitted days later that the conversations were genuine, though he still insisted that he “did not have any inappropriate relationships with this woman.” The story broke well into early voting, and GOP leaders feared that Montenegro could still win the primary and jeopardize their hold on what should be a safe seat.
That wasn’t the only strange controversy of the race. Lovas also accused Lesko of improperly funneling $50,000 from her state Senate campaign account to a supportive super PAC—which is supposed to operate independently of her congressional campaign. Lesko responded by threatening to sue Lovas. Meanwhile, Bob Stump faced some controversy over his name. The widow of the late Rep. Bob Stump, who is not related to the candidate, accused the former commissioner (who was born Christopher Robert Stump) of using the name Bob Stump to try and benefit from her husband’s legacy. The candidate denied it, and judging by his anemic showing on Tuesday, voters weren’t confused about which Bob Stump was which.