Arizona Republican Abe Hamadeh enters race to replace US Rep. Debbie Lesko

Oct 18, 2023, 12:00 PM

Former Arizona attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh, shown speaking during Kari Lake's Senate cam...

Former Arizona attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh, shown speaking during Kari Lake's Senate campaign launch event Oct. 10, 2023, in Scottsdale, is running to succeed U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, who isn't seeking reelection in 2024. (Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Shortly after Republican U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko revealed she won’t seek reelection next year, former Arizona attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh jumped into the race to replace her.

“Our country is in desperate need of courageous fighters, and that’s why I’m proud to announce I’m running for Congress in Arizona’s 8th District,” Hamadeh, a Republican, said in a statement Tuesday, about three hours after Lesko announced her plans.

“President Trump is under attack. He needs backup — and I’m ready to help him Make America Great Again.”

Hamadeh is a close ally of Kari Lake, the losing Republican nominee for governor in 2022, and spoke last week in Scottsdale when she launched her campaign for U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat.

He barely lost to Democrat Kris Mayes in last year’s attorney general contest. After a recount confirmed Mayes’ final margin at just 280 votes, Hamadeh waged an unsuccessful legal effort to overturn the results.

The Republican primary winner in Lesko’s GOP stronghold district is unlikely wind up in such a close race in the 2024 general election. Lesko, who said she will serve out the rest of her current term, won by 20 percentage points in 2020 and ran unopposed last year in District 8, which covers northwest Phoenix and adjoining suburban areas.

Who else is running to succeed Debbie Lesko?

So far, Hamadeh is the only Republican to declare in District 8. Blake Masters, who lost his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022, is considered another potential GOP candidate. U.S. House members don’t have to live in the district they represent.

Two other candidates, Democrat Greg Whitten and independent Jeremy Spreitzer, previously entered the race.

According to federal campaign finance reports, Whitten had just over $21,000 cash on hand heading into October, and Spreitzer had around $2,000.

Whitten said, optimistically, that Lesko’s absence creates a wide-open race.

“For too long, this district has been led by Trump extremist ideologies and paralyzed by a lack of vision, with a member of Congress protected mostly by the power of incumbency,” the Democrat said in a press release Wednesday. “I’m running for Congress to protect Arizona’s seniors and its veterans, put people above partisan politics, solve problems and to build a future in which every Arizonan can see themselves.”

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Arizona Republican Abe Hamadeh enters race to replace US Rep. Debbie Lesko