Lesko, Montenegro breaking away in Arizona special election
PHOENIX — A poll of likely voters in Arizona’s special election for Congressional District 8 showed a widening gap between two of the GOP candidates and the rest of the field.
Former state Sens. Debbie Lesko and Steve Montenegro, in OH Predictive Insight’s survey, were pulling away from the pack of hopefuls trying to replace Trent Franks in the U.S. House.
Lesko and Montenegro tied with 21 percent, while Phil Lovas followed with 12 percent.
“It is now a two-person race,” Mike Noble of Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights said. Early voting has gotten underway for the primary.
The automated poll of 400 Republicans, independents and nondeclareds was conducted Monday. The margin of error was plus-minus 4.89 percent.
The numbers grew for the leaders in a little over a month. In a December poll, Lesko grabbed 16 percent, Montenegro 1 percent and Lovas 2 percent.
“Montenegro has gained 20 points from early December after garnering endorsements from Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Sen. Ted Cruz,” Noble said in a press release.
The numbers have gone quickly in the opposite direction for Bob Stump. The former state congressman had been the early leader at 18 percent. This week he had dropped to fourth at 10 percent.
Respondents, many of them 55 or older, pointed to a recent public squabble over use of the name he shares with a popular congressman who died in 2003.
Other areas where Lesko and Montenegro made huge gains were in name recognition (Montenegro up 43 points, Lesko up 22) and overall favorable name recognition (Montenegro up 33 points, Lesko up 16).
Stump tumbled 17 points in unfavorability.
The special primary election was set for Feb. 27; the general election for the seat was scheduled April 24.
Franks resigned in December after a harassment scandal came to light.