Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma enters crowded 8th Congressional District race

Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma is running for Congress after U.S. Rep Debbie Lesko announced...
Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma is running for Congress after U.S. Rep Debbie Lesko announced she would not be seeking reelection.(Arizona State Legislature)
Published: Nov. 2, 2023 at 1:48 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma has announced his candidacy for the 8th Congressional District, one of several Republicans looking to fill the seat of Rep. Debbie Lesko, who announced last month that she would not be seeking reelection in 2024. Toma is one of two West Valley Lawmakers who have joined the race just this week, which also includes GOP state Sen. Anthony Kern.

Toma was elected to the state House in 2016 and selected as speaker in 2022. He first filed a statement of interest on Tuesday, then quietly launched a campaign website. He made his candidacy official on social media Thursday morning.

“Only through a unified party and a conservative message can we appeal to the majority of Americans who share our values: an end to illegal immigration, a strong national defense, a strong economy, job creation, and protecting school choice. This is how we get our country back on track,” Toma said in a statement released on X, formerly Twitter.

Sen. Kern announced his candidacy on Monday, also through a post on social media.

“I have been privileged to serve the people of Arizona throughout my career m public service as a law enforcement officer. Representative, and Senator. It is now my honor to continue fighting for our people as thee representative in Congress,” said Kern, who lives in Glendale, in a social media post on Monday night. Kern is well-known for introducing a bill to regulate drag shows and has a campaign finance complaint filed against him for allegedly using monies to attend the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. Kern was purportedly involved in Arizona’s “fake electors” scheme.

Republican businessman and venture capitalist Blake Masters announced last week that he would also be running to replace Lesko. Masters last ran for U.S. Senate in 2022, losing to Sen. Mark Kelly. Abe Hamadeh, who lost to Democrat Kris Mayes in the 2022 election, is also looking for the GOP nomination for the 8th Congressional District.

The Arizona primary election is set for Aug. 6, 2024.

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