Republicans held on to Arizona’s 8th Congressional District seat in a special election Tuesday, breaking Democrats’ recent winning streak and calming some nerves among conservatives. But that sigh of relief may be fleeting.
Debbie Lesko’s five-percentage-point victory over Hiral Tipirneni marks a significant narrowing of traditional GOP margins in a place Donald Trump won by 20 points, and reflects the opposing party’s over-performance in the majority of congressional elections held during the president’s tenure. The Phoenix-area district had been so reliably Republican that Democrats weren’t even able to field a candidate in the past two elections there. In 2012, Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned in December after allegations he offered a staffer $5 million to carry his child, beat a Democratic challenger by nearly 30 points.
The closeness of the results Tuesday is sending warning signals to Republicans in less-safe districts across the country — especially since, unlike the party’s loss last month in a Pennsylvania district Trump had overwhelmingly won, this one had such little evidence of Democratic DNA. And the outcome is having a particularly alarming effect among candidates running statewide in Arizona, a longtime GOP bastion that Democrats have been aiming to flip.
“These election results ought to startle Republicans in Arizona and nationally out of bed,” Arizona-based Republican donor and fundraiser Dan Eberhart told RCP. “Winning the Arizona 8th by such a small margin translates to very little margin of error for Gov. Doug Ducey and the eventual GOP Senate nominee in the midterms.”
Read more at Real Clear Politics.