UPDATED: Here's Everyone Who's Running To Replace Trent Franks

Even before Trent Franks resigned from Congress, it was pretty clear that 2018 was going to be a wild year in Arizona politics.

Now, we have a special election on our hands, too. And it's coming sooner than you think.

This morning, Governor Doug Ducey issued a proclamation setting the dates of the special election for Arizona's eighth congressional district, as mandated by state law.

The primary will take place on Tuesday, February 27. The general election is set for Tuesday, April 24.

That doesn't give aspiring candidates a lot of time to gather the amount of signatures that they need to get their names onto the ballot — especially given that we're headed into the holidays.

Brahm Resnik of Channel 12 News (KPNX) points out another complication: Whoever wins the special election will also have a regular primary in August and a regular general election in November to contend with.
In other words, it's not enough to win in April: You have to win another election seven months later if you want to keep your seat.

Here's the full list of everyone who's running so far, which we'll keep updating as more candidates join the race. [Note: This story was originally published on December 11th, but is current as of December 27th.]

If you live in District 8 and want to help any of the candidates below get a spot on the ballot, you can sign petitions electronically via the Secretary of State's website.


• Steve Montenegro, a state senator from Litchfield Park, announced on Facebook Live that Franks had personally urged him to run. He's also proudly touting an endorsement from disgraced former sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Montenegro, who was the only Hispanic member of the Arizona Legislature to vote in favor of SB 1070, has previously been honored by Phoenix New Times as the Best Token Republican Hispanic. Like Franks, he is very worried that people are aborting babies based on their race and sex, getting gay married, and not praying enough.

Other genius ideas from Montenegro? Proposing a civics test as a requirement for high school graduation, and offering a tax credit to people who carry concealed weapons.

• Debbie Lesko, a state senator from Glendale, who's perhaps best known as the woman behind this year's controversial voucher-expansion law. Lesko sits on the board of directors for the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and was previously named "Best Antediluvian Politico" by Phoenix New Times. Her other contributions to the state legislature include sponsoring a bill that would allow warrantless searches of abortion clinics, and trying to prevent women from accessing employer-sponsored birth control.

• Bob Stump, a former Arizona Corporation Commissioner who's not a fan of President Donald Trump. (To be specific, he said that he'd rather be stuck on an island with a hungry hyena because "hyenas are edible" and "I'm well aware of what happened to the Donner Party.")

Fun fact: Between 1977 and 2003, a different Bob Stump represented Arizona in Congress. The Bob Stump who is now running for Franks' seat was born Christopher Robert Stump, but has chosen to go by his middle name.

His official bio includes this gem: "Commissioner Stump is also a multiple winner of the Arizona Capitol Times’ 'Best Shoes' and 'Best Dressed Male' awards, which he considers among his greatest achievements."

• Phil Lovas, a former state legislator who left to take a position with the Trump administration in April. While Lovas was a state representative, he introduced legislation that would mandate drug testing for people seeking unemployment benefits. He also tried to get the state to adopt daylight savings time.

• Former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack has announced that he'll run for the seat, but hasn't specified a party yet. He's part of the constitutional sheriffs movement, which opposes perceived overreach from the federal government. Per the Arizona Capitol Times' Rachel Leingang, he is accepting campaign donations in the form of gold and silver mailed to his P.O. Box.

Christopher Sylvester, a former naval officer, had filed papers to run against Franks in the Republican primary even before the whole baby-carrying scandal happened.

Based on his Twitter feed, he appears to be a moderate Republican whose schtick is being extremely polite to everyone. According to records filed with the Federal Election Commission, he has yet to raise any money.

David Lien, a piano teacher and vocal coach who's also the choral director for Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West, is running as a moderate Republican in the style of Jeff Flake. His platform talks about balancing the budget, updating trade agreements, and the need for bipartisanship.

Though he's a newcomer to Arizona politics, Lien's official biography points out that he previously served on the city council in Willmar, Minnesota and ran for a seat in the Minnesota Legislature immediately after Richard Nixon's resignation. 

• Perennial candidate Clair Van Steenwyck, a retiree in Sun City West who previously attempted to run against Senator John McCain.

• Chad Allen, a Phoenix health care executive.

• John P. Heffernan III, an investment banker and Ronald Reagan enthusiast.

• Brenden Dilley, a life coach whose website proudly trumpets the words, “Supporting the Trump agenda.” For some reason, it also features a number of photos of New York City, despite the fact that he is running for office in Arizona.

• Bill Harbeck, who runs Holding on to Hope Ministries, a group focused on raising awareness of childhood sexual abuse.

• Christopher Rippey, a service advisor at Peoria Nissan, who’s declared an interest in improving education and streamlining the immigration process.

Jon Ritzheimer, a far-right anti-Muslim activist who was part of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  Strike that.... Matt Galka of Fox 10 is now reporting that Ritzheimer is dropping out of the race because he's headed to prison on January 12th.

• Travis Angry (yes, that’s his name.) He's a Trump fan who describes himself as a “Author, Youth Advocate, Youth Inspirational Speaker, 2 x Cancer Survivor, US Veteran, Single Father of 2 Beautiful Children [and] Christian Conservative.”

Kevin Engholdt, a self-described “consultant, entrepreneur, and problem solver.” He was previously planning on running for State Senate.

• Joseph Wagner, who is.... actually, we have no idea who he is. He’s not a known name in Republican politics, and hasn’t set up a campaign website yet.


• Brianna Westbrook, who New Times profiled in April, has the unusual distinction of being unofficially endorsed by Chelsea Manning. (As far as we know, that's a first in Arizona politics.) Her platform includes universal health care, a $15 minimum wage, and abolishing private prisons. She's got support from the far-left wing of the party and has a little under $1,500 on hand, according to FEC filings.

• Hiral Tipirneni, an Indian immigrant and emergency room physician, jumped into the race over the summer. Her platform includes expanding Medicare, protecting Social Security, and improving public schools. She's got considerably more money in the bank than the other Democrats in the race: As of September 30, she had $123,339.49 on hand. FEC records show that she loaned $50,000 to her own campaign.

Robert Schuster informs us that his full name is Robert Kyle Schuster and his friends call him Kyle, but he’s campaigning as Robert because that’s his legal name that will appear on the ballot. Schuster is finishing up a master’s degree at ASU while coaching baseball for the Deer Valley Unified School District and working part-time at Lush Comestics. He says he plans on focusing on criminal justice reform, homeland security/foreign policy, and civil rights.

• Robert Olsen is also on the list of declared Democrats. He doesn’t have a campaign webpage set up, and Google turns up a number of Robert Olsens and Bob Olsens in the metro Phoenix area, so we have no clue who this person is. Bob, email us!

Green Party:

•Yes, there's a Green Party candidate: Richard Grayson, who attempted to run for president in 2012 and threatened to bite Jan Brewer’s finger off. There's a long backstory to this, but basically you can blame Tucson Weekly.

Grayson has already launched his first "campaign ad," a blurry YouTube video of Vladmir Putin where he talks in a fake Russian accent.
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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.