Hiral Tipirneni loses a close race in Arizona special election

Dr. Hiral Tipirneni
Dr. Hiral Tipirneni

The Indian American physician vows to run again in November.

Democrat Hiral Tipirneni came within six percentage points of her Republican rival Debbie Lesko on Tuesday’s special election to Arizona’s 8th Congressional District. According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website, Indian American Tipirneni received more than 82,300 votes (47.4 percent), roughly 9,000 fewer than Lesko, who received nearly 91,400 (52.6 percent).

As soon as the Associated Press called the race in favor of the Republican, Tipirneni — who ran a very competent campaign — vowed to run again in November. She wrote on twitter, “whatever happens tonight or tomorrow, we’re not giving up. Regardless of the outcome, we’re taking this to November.”

The special election was warranted because Rep. Trent Franks, who represented the district for several terms, resigned in December after he was embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal.

That she came within 6 percentage point in a district that was carried by President Trump with more than 21 percentage points in the last presidential election should give Tipirneni a lot of momentum if she wins the Democratic Party nomination again.

She did it without much of a support from the House Democratic campaign arm. On the other hand, Lesko received help from the GOP House campaign committee to the tune of $1 million. Trump also recorded robo calls urging voters to back Lesko.

The Democrats had not fielded a credible candidate in the district in the past three elections. The GOP has a a nearly 80,000 voter registration advantage in the district.

The narrow margin of Lesko’s victory leaves Republicans with much to ponder as they prepare for a tough midterm election in November.

Tipirneni, a former emergency room physician, won her party’s nomination after defeating Brianna Westbrook in the primary.

Tipirneni’s campaign had focused on issues such as affordable healthcare, strengthening the economy, retirement security, quality education, and government accountability.

Tipirneni, born in India, came to the United States 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. She 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.

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