Published: Wed, April 25, 2018
Life&Culture | By Peggy Hughes

Indian-American doctor running for congressional election in Arizona

Indian-American doctor running for congressional election in Arizona

An Indian-American cancer research scientist, Hiral Tipirneni has lost narrowly in the special election for the House of Representatives from a Republican stronghold in Arizona, US media reported today.

"This isn't like the normal, everyday elections that happen in November, where Trent Franks had won by a whole bunch because nobody really challenged him", Lesko said, referring to the former occupant of the seat who resigned in December after discussing surrogacy with two female staffers. Tipirneni - or anyone else - can try to unseat her in November.

Even though Republicans avoided another stinging loss in a special election after losing a US Senate race in December in Alabama and Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District in March, the party's top operatives in Arizona and across the country anxious that the narrow margin was a signal of losses to come.

Lesko is the odds-on favorite to win the seat but it's been a tougher campaign than most had imagined. "It shouldn't have been this close".

Lesko is slightly favored, but the race is being closely watched for its significance in the broader political trends - and the margin of victory might be just as important as who wins.

In other words, a sentient golf cart could have won this race.

National Democrats, however, stayed away from the race, deducing that a district that has sent only Republicans to Congress for four decades was out of reach.

In the days leading up to the election, members of the state's Democratic party told ThinkProgress that they considered her campaign as both a success as well a good sign for the upcoming midterms, regardless of the outcome.

National Republicans poured money into the race, hesitant to take any chances following a string of upset losses in recent months, such as Democrat Conor Lamb's less-than-one-point victory in Pennsylvania's special election, as well as last December's Alabama Senate race, in which Democrat Doug Jones prevailed over former judge Roy Moore. Trump won Arizona overall by only roughly 3 points in 2016.

Tipirneni had given sleepless nights to her Republican opponent in Arizona. "Obviously the results are still coming in a little bit but this speaks volumes for what the fall is going to look like in Arizona".

Lesko has 53 percent of the vote while Tipirneni has 47 percent in the early counting, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office.

The race largely hinged on health care, with Tipirneni leaning heavily on her medical background and proposing universal coverage through Medicare expansion.

Ms. Lesko, a state senator, was declared the victor by the Associated Press late Tuesday night.

Democratic groups have spent far less on the Arizona race.

As a candidate, Tipirneni outraised Lesko by nearly $200,000. Forecasters suggestedanything short of a double-digit Lasko win would be "in line with past special-election results that have pointed to a Democratic wave" in November.

If those numbers hold up, that's a massive swing towards Democrats - the latest major improvement over earlier performance for the party since Donald Trump became president.

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