Here's Who Officially Qualified for a Shot at Trent Franks' Seat

After Trent Franks made a speedy exit from Congress amid an extremely weird scandal in which he allegedly asked staffers to carry his baby, basically everyone and their weird uncle decided to run for his seat in the upcoming special election.

In order to actually get a spot on the ballot, though, prospective candidates had to gather enough signatures to qualify. The list of candidates who successfully did so is a little shorter, but still contains 16 names.

If you're a registered Republican or a registered Democrat who lives in Congressional District 8 — which basically covers the West Valley — these are your choices for the primary on February 27. If you live in the district, but aren't registered, you have until January 29 to do so.


Steve Montenegro, a state senator from Litchfield Park who's proudly touting the endorsements of both a disgraced former congressman (Trent Franks) and a disgraced former sheriff (Joe Arpaio.) He's pledging to support Trump's agenda and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Debbie Lesko, a state senator from Glendale who was responsible for last year's controversial voucher-expansion law. The only Republican woman on the ballot is touting her pro-life record and desire to cut taxes.

Phil Lovas, a former state legislator who left to take a position with the Trump administration in April and whose website is essentially a shrine to Donald J. Trump. He's promising to — you guessed it — pass the Trump agenda through Congress.

Bob Stump, a former Arizona Corporation Commissioner who is not the same person as former Arizona Congressman Bob Stump. His website indicates that he is concerned with "overzealous regulation" and "the 'Deep State.'"

David Lien, a piano teacher and vocal coach who's focused on balancing the budget, updating trade agreements, and the need for bipartisanship.

Clair Van Steenwyk, a retiree in Sun City West and perennial candidate who last attempted to run against Senator John McCain.

Former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack, a member of the anti-government constitutional sheriffs movement, who's accepting donations in the form of silver and gold.

Christopher Sylvester, a former naval officer who's taken the unusual tack of criticizing school-choice advocates in his platform.

Chad Allen, a health care executive who want to introduce term limits for members of Congress, get lobbyists out of D.C., and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Brenden Dilley, a life coach who lists "Fight Radical Islam" and "Drain the Swamp" among his top priorities.

Kevin Cavanaugh, a former member of the Pinal County Sheriff's Department who less than three months ago was running for Congress in a completely different district. [Update, 1/12: Cavanaugh has dropped out.]

Stephen Dolgos, who describes himself as economically conversative and socially tolerant, and has already called Trent Franks a pervert.

Mark Yates, who says that "a lot of prayers and fasting" went into his decision to run.


Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency room physician who immigrated to the United States from India as a child. Her platform is centered on expanding Medicare, protecting Social Security, and improving public schools.

Brianna Westbrook, a sales manager at Arrowhead Honda who is openly transgender. She supports universal health care, a $15 minimum wage, renewable energy, and abolishing private prisons.

• Gene Scharer, who attempted to run against Franks in 2012. He's a mystery to us — and apparently also to the Arizona Democratic Party, which sent out a press release on Wednesday night announcing that the party has "two outstanding candidates in Brianna Westbrook and Dr. Hiral Tipirneni." [Update, 1/22: A court challenge reveled that Scharer is short of signatures and will not be on the ballot.]
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Antonia Noori Farzan is a staff writer at New Times and an honors graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Before moving to Arizona, she worked for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach.