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AZ-08 Open-Seat House Race Has a Strange Mix of Candidates

The open-seat from which Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) is retiring (AZ-08) is going to get a lot of attention next year, even though it is an R+10 district that will be nearly impossible for the Democrats to flip. That is because a lot of outside money will pour into the Republican primary. Arizona has nine House districts, with four big, low-population ones and five in the greater Phoenix area, as shown below. AZ-08 is one of the five.

Arizona House districts

The attention will be due to the candidates. Blake Masters ran for the Senate in 2022 and was beaten rather badly. He clearly concluded that statewide office was not a great place for an undistinguished newbie to start his political career. The House might be more of an entry-level job. Another guy who came to the same conclusion is Abe Hamadeh. He ran for attorney general of Arizona in 2022 and also lost. So he, too, downgraded to running for a House seat. Now the two of them are opposing each other. Neither of them live in AZ-08. Both were endorsed by Donald Trump last time. Now he will have to choose a favorite if he wants to have any influence here. On the other hand, fake elector Anthony Kern is also running. For Trump it is a veritable smorgasbord of choices.

However, there is also a somewhat less-Trumpy candidate running for the Republican nomination, Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma. He has never had Trump's endorsement, but he does have the endorsement of the outgoing representative, Lesko.

Two Democrats have filed, Bernadette Greene Placentia and Gregory Whitten. Placentia used to be a truck driver. Whitten is a bio security expert who has helped the Pentagon standardize health records. Neither one has much of a chance to win the general election.

However, there is one other significant candidate in the race, Jacob Chansley, the QAnon shaman who marched through the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, an activity that got him a 3-year prison sentence. Released after serving less than 2 years, he is running for the Libertarian Party nomination. He might well get it and is probably the only candidate in the race with a national profile. Remember him?

Jacob Chansley

The race will attract a lot of attention due to the cast of players. Also, if either Masters or Hamadeh wins, it will be one more Trumper and the Freedom Caucus will get some fresh blood. Chansley just adds color. (V)

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