Indian American Dr. Hiral Tipirneni wins Democratic primary for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District

She will face Republican Debbie Lesko in the April 24 special general election.

Dr. Hiral Tipirneni
Dr. Hiral Tipirneni

Indian American Dr. Hiral Tipirneni has won the special Democratic primary election for the 8th Congressional District of Arizona, defeating her only rival Brianna Westbrook.

Tipirneni will face Debbie Lesko, who won the Republican primary by beating 11 candidates, in the April 24 special general election.

The seat became vacant after GOP incumbent Rep. Trent Franks resigned following a sexual misconduct allegation. He represented the 8th district for 14 years before resigning on December 8, 2017.

“I think we won because our message was really connecting with voters, resonating,” Tipirneni told The Arizona Republic after the Associated Press called the race in her favor. “I think they are looking for someone who brings something like my skill set to the table, somebody who is ready to work with people from all backgrounds and really focus on solving the problems at hand.”

Tipirneni, an emergency room physician by profession, gives the Democrats a ray of hope in the Congressional District which has been a stronghold of the Republicans for a long time. But, the political situation in the district has changed considerably after the Trump administration assumed office in 2017. The district has witnessed the emergence of anti-Trump resistance movement in the past 13 months.

While the Democratic primary was essentially a two-candidate race, on the Republican side there were a dozen candidates.

Tipirneni is considered to be the strongest nominee the Democrats have fielded in years. Franks did not have a Democratic challenger in the last two election cycles.

Tipirneni runs on the issues of affordable healthcare, strengthening the economy, retirement security, quality education, and government accountability. She also endorses “ an accountable immigration system providing a clear, affordable path to citizenship for those who qualify and have earned it.”

She officially announced her candidacy on July 19, months before the staunch conservative Franks was practically pushed out of Congress by the House leadership following revelations that he had asked two female congressional staffers to bear his children as surrogate mothers.

The Indian American said she is running because she wanted to take on special interests in Washington. “I believe in solving problems and improving lives, which is all about people, not partisanship,” Tipirneni said while announcing her candidacy. “That’s what I did in the emergency room, and I’m running for Congress to do the same.”

Tipirneni came to America from India with her family at the age of three. According to her campaign website, she earned her medical degree through an accelerated, competitive program at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Hiral chose to pursue emergency medicine because of the wide variety of challenges it presented, and it allowed her to be the first point of contact for patients.

She has served the Phoenix area for more than 20 years as an emergency room physician, cancer research advocate and, most recently, on the board of directors of the Maricopa Health Foundation, which supports the county’s public health care delivery system.

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