Debbie Lesko

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Debbie Lesko
Debbie Lesko, official portrait, 115th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th district
Assumed office
May 7, 2018
Preceded by Trent Franks
President pro tempore of the Arizona Senate
In office
January 9, 2017 – January 8, 2018
Preceded by Sylvia Allen
Succeeded by John Kavanagh
Member of the Arizona Senate
from the 21st district
In office
January 5, 2015 – January 8, 2018
Preceded by Rick Murphy
Succeeded by Rick Gray
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 21st district
In office
January 14, 2013 – January 5, 2015
Serving with Rick Gray
Preceded by J. D. Mesnard
Succeeded by Tony Rivero
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 9th district
In office
January 2009 – January 14, 2013
Serving with Rick Murphy and Rick Gray
Preceded by Bob Stump
Succeeded by Victoria Steele
Personal details
Born (1958-11-14) November 14, 1958 (age 59)
Political party Republican
Residence Peoria, Arizona
Education University of Wisconsin, Madison (BA)
Website House website

Debbie Lesko (born November 14, 1958) is an American politician and a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Arizona's 8th congressional district. She previously served as a member of the Arizona Senate from 2015 to 2018, representing the state's 21st district. She also was President pro tempore of the Arizona Senate from 2017 to 2018.[1]

She previously served as a member of Arizona House of Representatives from 2009 until 2015. Lesko won the Republican nomination for Arizona's 8th congressional district special election, 2018 to replace Trent Franks, who resigned from Congress, on February 27, 2018.[2] She won the election on April 24, defeating Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni with 52.6% of the vote to Tipirneni's 47.4.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2018 special election[edit]

Debbie Lesko was the Republican nominee for the special election held to replace Congressman Trent Franks, who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment. She faced the Democratic candidate, physician Hiral Tipirneni, in the general election on April 24.[4] She was endorsed by President Donald Trump who said that Lesko was a "conservative Republican".[5]

She won the election on April 24, beating Democrat Hiral Tipirneni with 52.6% of the vote to Tipirneni's 47.4.[3] The win was by a narrower margin than expected,[6] with observers suggesting that it was indicative of a coming Democratic wave in the 2018 mid-term elections.[7][8] According to the Associated Press, the election sent "a big message to Republicans nationwide: Even the reddest of districts in a red state can be in play this year."[9]

Campaign finance complaints[edit]

In January 2018, Lesko's campaign committee, Re-elect Debbie Lesko for Senate, gave $50,000 to Conservative Leadership for Arizona, a federal PAC authorized to spend independently of other campaigns. It was created eight days before taking the money from Lesko's state campaign committee.[10] The new PAC raised almost no other cash, records show, and the PAC used the money to support Lesko with yard signs, while her congressional campaign spent heavily on TV ads. Phil Lovas, a candidate in the Republican primary, complained to the Federal Election Commission and Arizona Attorney General alleging multiple violations in February 2018.[10]

The PAC maneuver also prompted criticism from the other Lesko opponent in the Republican primary, Steve Montenegro, who accused Lesko of "illegally funneling money into her SuperPAC and knowingly lied about it by filing false campaign reports."[10] A second complaint alleging federal campaign finance law violations was filed against Lesko in March 2018 by the Campaign Legal Center alleging that her transfer of $50,000 from her state campaign to an independent group that spent nearly all the cash backing her congressional run was illegal.[11]

Political positions[edit]

Economy, taxes and regulation[edit]

Lesko has said that she would have voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Republican Party's 2017 tax overhaul.[12] She favors a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and said that "on the federal level, there has to be a lot of areas where we can cut spending."[12]

In 2017, Lesko championed legislation that would allow payday lenders to provide loans at interest rates as high as 164% a year (the previous maximum was 36%).[13][14]

In 2016, she opposed efforts to increase the minimum wage in Arizona to $10 by 2017 and then to $12 by 2020.[15]

Education[edit]

Lesko favors empowering private schools and charter schools.[16]

Environment and energy[edit]

Asked at a debate involving seven candidates in January 2018 whether she believed that humans contribute to climate change, Lesko did not raise her hand.[17] After a long pause, she said that the question was "loaded" and added, "Is some of it, maybe, human-caused? Possibly. But certainly not the majority of it. I think it just goes through cycles and it has to do a lot with the sun. So no, I'm not a global warming proponent."[17]

In 2016, Lesko crafted a measure that would gave state utilities in Arizona the right to charge separate rates for customers who produced their own energy through solar panels.[18] Lesko crafted the measure with the assistance of utilities.[18]

Health care[edit]

Lesko has said she opposes "universal health coverage" and favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[12] She opposed Arizona's expansion of Medicaid coverage and sued former Arizona governor Jan Brewer after she expanded Medicaid.[19]

Immigration[edit]

She is an immigration hardliner, and has said that she would work with Trump to ensure that Trump's border wall gets built in Arizona.[16]

Social issues[edit]

Lesko is pro-life.[20] She has proposed legislation to give employers religious exemptions from providing contraceptives in health insurance plans.[21][22][23] She has proposed legislation that would allow health officials to conduct warrantless and unannounced inspections of abortion clinics, which critics said undermined the privacy of patients at the clinics.[24]

She opposes changes to existing gun laws, saying "I think there's enough laws. The laws need to be enforced."[12]

Electoral history[edit]

Debbie Lesko at a campaign event in Peoria, Arizona.
  • 2014 Lesko ran for the open Arizona Senate District 21 held by retiring senator Rick Murphy. She was unopposed in the Republican primary. Lesko defeated Carolyn Vasko in the general election with 32,119 votes.[25]
  • 2012 Redistricted to District 21 alongside fellow Republican Representative Rick Gray, and with incumbent Republican Representatives Thomas Forese and J. D. Mesnard redistricted to District 17, Lesko ran in the August 28, 2012 Republican Primary, placing first with 14,771 votes;[26] in the five-way November 6, 2012 General election, Lesko took the first seat with 41,023 votes and Representative Gray took the second seat ahead of Democratic nominees Carol Lokare, Sheri Van Horsen (who had run for Legislature seats in 2006, 2008, and 2010) and a Libertarian write-in candidate.[27]
  • 2010 With Representative Murphy running for Arizona Senate leaving a District 9 seat open, Lesko ran in the August 24, 2010 Republican Primary and placed first with 14,498 votes;[28] in the three-way November 2, 2010 General election, Lesko took the first seat with 32,423 votes, fellow Republican nominee Rick Gray took the second seat ahead of Democratic nominee Shirley McAllister.[29]
  • 2008 With incumbent Republican Representative Bob Stump running for Arizona Corporation Commission and leaving a District 9 seat open, Representative Rick Murphy and Lesko were unopposed for the September 2, 2008 Republican Primary; Lesko placed first with 10,902 votes and Representative Murphy placed second;[30] in the November 4, 2008 General election, Lesko took the first seat with 37,762 votes and Representative Murphy took the second seat ahead of Democratic nominees Sheri Van Horsen (who had run for the seat in 2006) and Shawn Hutchinson.[31][32]
U.S. House, Arizona District 8 Republican Primary, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Debbie Lesko 25,508 35.77
Republican Phil Lovas 17,031 23.88
Republican Steve B Montenegro 16,987 23.82
Republican Bob Stump 3,832 5.37
Republican Clair Van Steenwyk 1,692 2.37
Republican Chris Sylvester 1,370 1.92
Republican David Lien 1,261 1.77
Republican Richard Mack 1,014 1.42
Republican Mark Yates 799 1.12
Republican Chad Allen 747 1.05
Republican Brenden Dilley 734 1.03
Republican Stephen Dolgos 345 0.48
Arizona's 8th congressional district special election, 2018[32]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Debbie Lesko 96,012 52.4% -15.97
Democratic Hiral Tipirneni 87,331 47.6% +47.6
Total votes 183,343 100.00
Plurality 8,682 5.2%
Republican hold Swing -16.0%

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Debbie Lesko". Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona State Legislature. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Trent Franks stepping down from Congress amid complaints from 2 former female staffers". Arizona Republic. December 12, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Martin, Jonathan (April 24, 2018). "Debbie Lesko Wins Arizona Special Election for Congress, Rallying G.O.P." New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2018. 
  4. ^ Matthew Bloch & Jasmine C. Lee, Arizona Special Primary Election Results: Eighth House District (February 28, 2018).
  5. ^ CNN, Dan Merica,. "Democrats aren't expecting an Arizona miracle, but their eyes are on November". CNN. Retrieved 2018-04-18. 
  6. ^ "Republican wins US House race in Arizona GOP stronghold – Your Valley". Your Valley. 2018-04-25. Retrieved 2018-04-25. 
  7. ^ Rakich, Nathaniel (2018-04-23). "Watch The Arizona 8th Special Election Like A Pro". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2018-04-25. 
  8. ^ CNN, Analysis by Harry Enten,. "Why the win for Republicans in Arizona 8 is still good for Democrats". CNN. Retrieved 2018-04-25. 
  9. ^ Press, The Associated (2018-04-25). "GOP Unsettled by Narrow Win in US House Race in Arizona". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-25. 
  10. ^ a b c Hansen, Ronald J. (February 21, 2018). "Debbie Lesko accused of moving $50K from campaign to a PAC that backs ... Lesko". Arizona Republic. 
  11. ^ "GOP primary winner, Debbie Lesko, faces 2nd federal election law complaint". Associated Press. March 2, 2018. 
  12. ^ a b c d Ronald J. Hansen (April 12, 2018). "Lesko, Tipirneni contrast views on health, taxes and guns in final CD8 joint appearance". Arizona Republic. 
  13. ^ Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Effort to offer high-interest loans in Arizona appears to be dead". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  14. ^ Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Proposed bill seeks to allow AZ lenders to offer new high-interest loan". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  15. ^ Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Backers of higher Arizona minimum wage use extra cash to target candidates". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  16. ^ a b Ronald J. Hansen (April 17, 2018). "Replacing Trent Franks: GOP nervous even in heavily Republican Arizona district". Arizona Republic. 
  17. ^ a b Joshua Bowling (January 30, 2018). "Here's where West Valley congressional candidates stand on climate change". The Arizona Republic. 
  18. ^ a b Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Measure allows utilities to charge separate rates for solar customers". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  19. ^ "Repeal Of Health Law Could Force Tough Decisions For Arizona Republicans". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  20. ^ Tara Golshan (April 16, 2018). "Republicans aren't taking chances in the Arizona special election to replace Trent Franks". Vox. 
  21. ^ Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Contraception exemption bill may be finished". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  22. ^ Press, Michelle L. Price The Associated. "Glendale lawmaker defends her birth-control bill". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  23. ^ Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Birth-control-exclusion bill goes to Arizona Senate". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  24. ^ Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "House approves unannounced, warrantless abortion clinic inspections". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  25. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass 2014 General Election November 4, 2014" (PDF). Phoenix, Arizona: Secretary of State of Arizona. p. 5. Retrieved March 18, 2016. 
  26. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass 2012 Primary Election August 28, 2012" (PDF). Phoenix, Arizona: Secretary of State of Arizona. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 12, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  27. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass 2012 General Election November 6, 2012" (PDF). Phoenix, Arizona: Secretary of State of Arizona. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 12, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  28. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass 2010 Primary Election – August 24, 2010" (PDF). Phoenix, Arizona: Secretary of State of Arizona. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  29. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass 2010 General Election – November 2, 2010" (PDF). Phoenix, Arizona: Secretary of State of Arizona. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  30. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass 2008 Primary Election – September 2, 2008" (PDF). Phoenix, Arizona: Secretary of State of Arizona. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 24, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  31. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass 2008 General Election – November 4, 2008" (PDF). Phoenix, Arizona: Secretary of State of Arizona. p. 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 19, 2008. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Almukhtar, Sarah (2018-04-24). "Arizona Special Election Results: Eighth House District". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-26. 

External links[edit]

Arizona House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bob Stump
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 9th district

2009–2013
Served alongside: Rick Murphy, Rick Gray
Succeeded by
Victoria Steele
Preceded by
J. D. Mesnard
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 21st district

2013–2015
Served alongside: Rick Gray
Succeeded by
Tony Rivero
Arizona Senate
Preceded by
Rick Murphy
Member of the Arizona Senate
from the 21st district

2015–2018
Succeeded by
Rick Gray
Political offices
Preceded by
Sylvia Allen
President pro tempore of the Arizona Senate
2017–2018
Succeeded by
John Kavanagh
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Trent Franks
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th congressional district

2018–present
Incumbent
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Conor Lamb
United States Representatives by seniority
428th
Succeeded by
Eleanor Holmes Norton
as U.S. Delegate