Suits seek to bar 2 Democrats seeking ex-Rep. Franks' seat

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(Left to Right: Brianna Westbrook and Gene Scharer. Source: Facebook) (Left to Right: Brianna Westbrook and Gene Scharer. Source: Facebook)
FILE - In this March 24, 2017 file photo, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. speaks with a reporter on Capitol Hill in Washington, as the House nears a vote on their health care overhaul. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) FILE - In this March 24, 2017 file photo, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. speaks with a reporter on Capitol Hill in Washington, as the House nears a vote on their health care overhaul. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
PHOENIX (AP) -

Two of three Democrats running in the special primary election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks are facing lawsuits challenging their right to appear on the ballot.

The suits filed Thursday allege Brianna Westbrook and Gene Scharer are ineligible because many of their qualifying signatures are invalid. Westbrook blames her opponent's "personal wealth" for the effort to sideline her campaign.

[RELATED: 13 Republicans, 3 Democrats file for ex-US Rep. Franks seat]

The other Democrat is Dr. Hiral Tipirneni. The lawsuits were filed by Tipirneni supporter Lynda Vescio.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Politics]

None of the 12 Republican candidates' signatures were challenged by Thursday's deadline. A thirteenth GOP candidate withdrew.

Ballots have already been mailed to overseas military voters, making a successful court challenge problematic.

The primary election is Feb. 27, followed by an April 24 general election.

Franks resigned amid sexual harassment allegations last month.

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