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GOP’s tight win in Arizona CD8 is departure from Trump’s rout in 2016

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — The narrow margin between Republican winner Debbie Lesko and rival Dr. Hiral Tipirneni in Arizona Congressional District 8 on Tuesday was a marked difference from the area voters’ numbers for the 2016 presidential election.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting from the special election, Lesko had captured 52 percent of the votes to political newcomer Tipirneni’s 47 percent. In contrast, President Donald Trump won the district by 21 percentage points.

Lesko’s predecessor, Trent Franks, who resigned in December after sexual harassment allegations were raised against him, retained his seat in 2016’s general election with 204,942 votes. Runner-up Mark Salazar of the Green Party managed 93,954. No Democrat ran.

Political consultant Chuck Coughlin called the special election margin “not good” for national Republicans looking at their chances in November’s general election.

“They should clean house in this election,” Coughlin, a Republican and longtime adviser to former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, said.

“There’s a drag on the midterms for Republican candidates that’s being created by the national narrative.

“And it would be very hard to buck that trend if you’re in swing districts, much less close districts, if you can’t change that narrative between now and November,” he said.

Hours after polls had opened in the historically conservative area that includes Peoria and Surprise, Trump tweeted out his support of Lesko.

Turnout for the 455,660 registered voters was 38 percent. Mail-in ballots made up 75 percent of the expected votes.

Trump tweeted out his congratulations to Lesko on Wednesday.

Tipirneni tweeted that she was not giving up the fight.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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