Republican Debbie Lesko is the projected winner of Arizona's House special election, allowing the party to breathe a sigh of relief as it holds on to a safe red district.
The projected Tuesday victory for Lesko, a state senator, in the state's 8th District avoids what would have become the GOP's second special election loss in a recently Republican district in only two months. Democratic former physician Hiral Tipirneni had vied for an upset in a district that has a strong Republican voter registration edge and voted for President Donald Trump by about a 21 percentage point margin in 2016.
Regardless, Democrats have some reason for optimism from the results. Tipirneni appeared to have lost by significantly less than Trump's margin of victory in the district, continuing a trend in special elections since Trump won the White House.
That could still buoy Democratic hopes of carrying enough House districts in November either won by Hillary Clinton or carried by Trump with only a small margin of victory to win a majority in the chamber. Democrats need to win 23 GOP-held House seats to take a majority.
Following Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb's upset victory in a Pennsylvania special election last month, Republican outside groups started to spend cash in Arizona to avoid another potential debacle.
Early voting trends that leaned heavily toward registered Republicans and older voters appeared to show an advantage for Lesko in the days leading up to the election. Still, Trump gave Lesko a final push on Tuesday, tweeting his support for the Republican.
Trump tweet: Arizona, please get out today and vote @DebbieLesko for Congress in #AZ08. Strong on Border, Immigration and Crime. Great on the Military. Time is ticking down - get out and VOTE today. We need Debbie in Congress!
Lesko, 59, has represented parts of the 8th District at the state level. She has espoused views largely in line with mainstream Republicans. Lesko has supported higher military spending, limited physical barriers on the U.S. border with Mexico and tax cuts and simplification.