Republican Lesko, Democrat Tipirneni Win Congressional District 8 Primaries
Courtesy of Debbie Lesko; Courtesy of Hiral Tipirneni

Republican Lesko, Democrat Tipirneni Win Congressional District 8 Primaries

This story has been updated from its original version to reflect the latest numbers available from the Maricopa County Recorder's Office.

Voters in Congressional District 8 will have the opportunity to choose one of two female candidates — Republican Debbie Lesko or Democrat Hiral Tipirneni — to replace former congressman Trent Franks, who resigned in December after reportedly offering an aide $5 million to carry his child.

The last several thousand votes are still being counted, but it's highly unlikely that they'll have any significant impact on the results. Both parties declared their winners fairly early on Tuesday night.

Of the 12 Republican candidates, Lesko received 36 percent of the vote, followed by Phil Lovas and Steve Montenegro, who each received 24 percent of the vote. As of 10:36 p.m. on Tuesday night, Lovas had received just 44 votes more than Montenegro.

On the Democratic ticket, Hiral Tipirneni received 21,703 votes, or 59 percent of the total. Brianna Westbrook received 14,701 votes, or 40 percent.

Though the general election isn't until April, it's effectively a done deal after Tuesday. Congressional District 8 is super conservative — it went for Trump by 21 points — and the chances of a Democrat winning are negligible.

It doesn't look like Montenegro's widely publicized flirtation with a female staffer cost him the election, although it may have helped him drop from second place to third. Before news of the scandal broke, polling showed him tied with Lesko for the lead. But by last Tuesday night, when 12 News aired the first story about Montenegro's text messages, approximately 75 percent of Republican voters had turned in their ballots — meaning that they may have already rejected him for reasons unrelated to his extramarital activities.

In any case, with two female candidates facing off in the general election, it seems safe to say the Arizona GOP no longer needs to fear "another Roy Moore situation." And we all get to avoid the irony of a congressman resigning over a scandal involving a female staffer, only to be replaced by someone who turned out to have their own baggage when it comes to female staffers.

Lesko, the current frontrunner, faced a minor scandal of her own last week: The Yellow Sheet Report discovered that she'd taken $50,000 from her state Senate campaign committee and donated it to a super PAC, which then spent nearly $50,000 on her congressional race. Though technically legal, the arrangement is ethically questionable, and Lesko's two main rivals were quick to accuse of her illegal money laundering — prompting her to threaten to sue for defamation.

Despite all the drama of the past week, Election Day appears to have been uneventful. The main highlight was when ABC15 caught Phil Lovas campaigning right outside a polling location, which is illegal. (You're supposed to be at least 75 feet away.) Lovas told the Associated Press that it was an "honest mistake."

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