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16 candidates enter race for former Rep. Trent Franks’ Congressional seat

(Flickr/U.S. House of Representatives)

PHOENIX — The deadline to enter the race for former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks’ Congressional seat has ended and 13 candidates will go head-to-head in a special Republican primary election next month.

According to Secretary of State Michele Reagan, 13 Republicans and three Democrats submitted enough signatures to participate in the Feb. 27 primary election.

Only five of those candidates — former Arizona state Sens. Debbie Lesko and Steve Montenegro, former state Rep. Phil Lovas, former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump and former Graham County sheriff Richard Mack — have previous elective experience.

The other Republican candidates include Clair Van Steenwyk, Chad Allen, Kevin Cavanaugh, Brenden Dilley, Stephen Dolgos, David Lien, Christopher Sylvester and Mark Yates.

The three candidates running for the Democratic Party are physician Hiral Tipirneni, Gene Scharer and Brianna Westbrook.

However, potential candidates have until Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. to file as a write-in candidate for either primary election. Voters must register by Jan. 29 at midnight to vote in the special primary election.

The special general election will take place on April 24.

If the winner of the special general election wishes to keep their seat, they will have to run in another primary election in August before, if they win, run in another general election in November.

The heavily Republican 8th Congressional District covers much of the western and northwestern Phoenix suburbs, and the winner of the GOP primary will be strongly favored to win the seat outright.

Democrats are holding out hope that a surge of opposition to President Donald Trump’s policies could drive turnout and give them the chance to pull off a stunning upset.

Franks resigned effective immediately in December, one day after he said he was resigning after he discussed surrogacy with at least two staffers. He later admitted to offering an aide $5 million to act as a surrogate mother.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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