Arizona Republican Trent Franks running for Congress again, 6 years after surrogacy scandal

Nov 2, 2023, 8:25 AM

In this file photo, then-Rep. Trent Franks speaks during a press conference with fellow Republicans...

In this file photo, then-Rep. Trent Franks speaks during a press conference with fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill, May 22, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Franks, who resigned in 2017, announced Nov. 1, 2023, he was running to regain his seat. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Former Arizona Republican Congressman Trent Franks aims to reclaim the U.S. House seat he resigned from amid scandal six years ago after reportedly asking two staffers to carry his child.

Franks said in a statement Wednesday he received many calls from supporters encouraging him to run after GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko announced two weeks ago that she wasn’t seeking reelection in 2024.

“I suppose everyone entering an election cites encouragement from friends and supporters to blunt the usual suggestions of arrogance or self-promotion,” the statement says. “However, in this case, the encouragement for me to run was palpable and impossible to dismiss.”

Franks referenced his abrupt departure in the middle of his eighth term in Wednesday’s statement, saying he stepped down to spare his loved ones from “heavily sensationalized attacks.”

“Now that my family has matured and circumstances have developed as they have, I hope I can move forward for those I love and for the country I love in a wiser, more dedicated way than ever before,” his statement says.

Why did Trent Franks resign from Congress in 2017?

Franks resigned on Dec. 8, 2017, after then-House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would refer the allegations against him to the Ethics Committee and urged him to step aside.

One of the women who Franks allegedly asked about surrogacy told The Associated Press that he offered her $5 million to carry his child. She said she spoke to another aide in the office who had also been approached about surrogacy.

In his statement announcing his resignation, Franks said he and his wife have struggled with infertility.

Six years later, Franks is jumping into an overflowing pool of Republicans angling to succeed Lesko in the GOP-leaning District 8, which covers northwest Phoenix and adjoining West Valley suburban areas.

Who else is running for Debbie Lesko’s House seat?

The list of Republican hopefuls includes two 2022 statewide race losers in attorney general nominee Abe Hamadeh and U.S. Senate nominee Blake Masters, and two members of the Arizona Legislature in House Speaker Ben Toma and Sen. Anthony Kern.

Ten other candidates have filed statements of interest for the Lesko’s seat with the state: Republicans Nick Kupper, Jon Forsythe, Rollie Stevens, Seth Coates, Isiah Gallegos and Jimmy Rodriguez, and Democrats Jim Holmes, Marc Lewis, Steven Sawdy and Donald Case.

Rodriguez is the only Republican who filed before Lesko announced Oct. 17 she was leaving Congress at the end of her term in January 2025.

Democrats Gregory Whitten and Bernadette Greene Placentia and independent Jeremy Spreitzer are also running for the CD8 seat, according to Federal Elections Commission records.

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Arizona Republican Trent Franks running for Congress again, 6 years after surrogacy scandal