Steve MontenegroEXPAND
Steve Montenegro
Gage Skidmore

'Revenge Porn' Scandal May Not Hurt Steve Montenegro in CD8 Race

When sexually explicit text messages between a staffer and a candidate for Congress surface within a week of an election, it's generally not good news for anyone involved.

But when it comes to former Arizona senate majority leader Steve Montenegro's chances in the upcoming Republican primary for Congressional District 8's special election, the rapidly unfolding scandal may not even matter. Most voters have already made up their minds.

By the time the news broke on Tuesday night, more than 52,000 Republicans had already turned in their early ballots. Another 6,000 or so ballots have come in since then. To put that in perspective, the Secretary of State's Office anticipates receiving more than 80,000 ballots from Republican voters in total — meaning that three quarters have already voted.

Before Tuesday, polling showed Montenegro and former state senator Debbie Lesko tied for the lead in the race.

Since the news of Montenegro's extramarital flirtations broke, a handful of high-profile Republicans have publicly denounced him. Cathi Herrod, the head of the influential Center for Arizona Policy, called for him to drop out of the race, as did former governor Jan Brewer. (Brewer had already endorsed Debbie Lesko; Herrod has not endorsed a candidate.)

But let's be real. This is a district that Trump won by 21 points, despite the release of the Access Hollywood tape and the incredibly long list of women of who accused him of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Clearly, a majority of voters in Congressional District 8 just don't care.

And even though the seat opened up in the first place because of Trent Franks' own sexual harassment scandal — he was accused of asking an aide to carry his baby — the former congressman hasn't become as politically toxic as you might expect. In fact, Montenegro has been proudly touting Franks' endorsement on his lawn signs and his campaign ads.

Montenegro may well end up in Congress. And the staffer — who's quit her job at the state Senate, and is considering leaving town — will be only one who truly gets hurt.

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