CD 8: Republican Lesko, Democrat Tipirneni to face off for House seat

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Hiral Tipirneni, left, and Debbie Lesko, right. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Hiral Tipirneni, left, and Debbie Lesko, right. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Former Gov. Jan Brewer was on hand with a hug as Republican Debbie Lesko spoke from her home Tuesday night. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Former Gov. Jan Brewer was on hand with a hug as Republican Debbie Lesko spoke from her home Tuesday night. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The results of the much-talked-about CD 8 special election primary are coming in and they do not seem to be much of a surprise.

[SPECIAL ELECTION: Get LIVE results | The candidates]

Republicans

Early numbers put Debbie Lesko, the only woman on the Republican ballot, in the lead by more than 7,700 votes. Steve Montenegro had 24.2 percent of the vote and Phil Lovas had 23.3 percent. The rest of the field trailed far behind.

"This was a team effort and I'm so thankful, I am so blessed," Lesko said from her home at about 8:45 p.m. "Wow! This is sweet."

Former Gov. Jan Brewer, who endorsed Lesko, was on hand to celebrate.

"I've known Sen. Lesko for so many years," she said. "I know how attentive she is to what she puts her mind to. She has been a wonderful representative for the west Valley. She digs in. She's accessible. She works hard and she's honest."

Lovas conceded the race shortly before 9 p.m., about two hours after the polls closed.

"While the result was not what we had hoped, I am grateful for the support we received from the citizens of #AZ08," Lovas tweeted. "A huge thank you to our numerous volunteers and supporters."

Montenegro conceded about 30 minutes after Lovas, according to The Associated Press. He reportedly told his supporters that their "shared commitment to this country" will give the Republicans a win in the general election.

The Associated Press called the race for Lesko at 10 p.m., two hours after the first results were posted.

"I am confident that she will win the special election over whichever Nancy Pelosi Democrat emerges from the primary," AZGOP Chairman Jonathan Lines said in a statement a few minutes later. "Debbie is an incredibly hard worker, she fights for her constituents, and never — ever — takes anything or anyone for granted." 

Democrats

Hiral Tipirneni led Brianna Westbrook by more than 6,100 votes. The Associated Press called her as the winner just before 8:30 p.m., about 90 minutes before calling the Republican race.

"I am running because I want to make a difference, I want to solve these critical issues," Tipirneni said. "I'll tell you what, education is ... on the top three of our list. I know in the past she [Lesko] has not been the strongest supporter of public education -- our system -- and I am ready to fight for that."

"Congratulations to Dr. Hiral Tipirneni on a hard-fought primary victory," Arizona Democratic Party Chair Felecia Rotellini said in a statement. "She ran an incredible campaign focused on improving the lives of Arizonans in the Eighth Congressional District by offering real solutions for them. This is in direct contrast to the chaos Arizonans have seen on their television screens by the Arizona Republican Party."

[IMAGE: Results from the Arizona Secretary of State's Office]

"The Eighth Congressional District deserves a representative that work to get things done for them - like safeguarding Social Security and Arizona's AHCCCS while making sure their hard-earned tax dollars don't go to waste in Washington," Rotellini continued. "Dr. Hiral Tipirneni will do exactly that.”

While the results are not yet official -- they will not be until the secretary of state certifies them -- many pundits predicted a Lesko-Tipirneni race for the seat Trent Franks abruptly vacated amid possible sexual harassment allegations.

Twelve Republicans and two Democrats were on the official ballot, and there were several more write-in candidates, including Libertarians and Green Party names. 

[SLIDESHOW: The candidates]

CD 8 is generally considered staunch Republican territory.

No shortage of scandal, voter turnout better than expected

The scandal that has marked this election from the beginning has not dampened voters' enthusiasm. According to Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, turnout is exceeding expectations. 

[READ MORE: Sex, campaign funding scandals upend Arizona US House race]

According to the Secretary of State's Office, there are about 456,000 registered voters in Arizona Congressional District 8.

More than 100,000 ballots have already been cast. Roughly 99,000 of them have been counted. Those numbers track higher than the 2016 primary election.

[WATCH: Voter turnout for CD 8 special election primary exceeding expectations]

Fontes said the vast majority of those ballots came from early voters.The winners of Tuesday's primary will face off in the general election on April 24.

According to Statistical Atlas, CD 8 covers about 725,000 residents (roughly 271,000 households) in the west Valley, including Avondale, El Mirage, Glendale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Peoria, a portion of Phoenix, Surprise, Youngtown, Anthem, Citrus Park, New River, Sun City and Sun City West.

[MORE: Arizona politics]


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