Bret Jaspers / KJZZ
Updated at 7:15 am ET
The Republicans defended Arizona Congress Square on Tuesday to avoid another electoral defeat with a narrow victory in a typically-strong GOP district.
Republican Debbie Lesko, a former state senator, defeated Democrat Chiral Tipirneni, a new policy-maker, but Lesko's leadership was only five percent, in a district dominated by Republicans.
Lesko won 52.6 percent of the vote, Tipirneni received 47.4 percent. Donald Trump won the district 2016 by 21 points. In 2016, the former GOP Congressman won the seat with more than 68 percent of the vote. Rep. Trent Franks resigned in December for alleged sexual harassment.
The Associated Press projected the race on Tuesday night shortly after initial results were reported.
"Their victory proves Republicans have a positive record this fall," House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement on Lesko's victory on Tuesday night. Ryan's allies were included in the race to make sure there was no democratic uproar.
The race in the Conservative 8th Congressional District northwest of Phoenix has been closely watched in recent months in Pennsylvania and Alabama, where Democrats have gained a seat in the House of Representatives or a Senate in an area where Republicans were in control for years.
Democratic Election numbers showed Republicans turned nearly 49 percent of the ballot, Democrats about 28 percent, and Independents 23 percent. But Lesko took no chances and told their supporters on Saturday that "we are in the fight of our lives".
"It's not like the normal daily elections in November, when Trent Franks won a lot because nobody really challenged him," Lesko said before the vote. "The whole nation is looking to Arizona because it's the only game in town."
The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee together spent more than $ 900,000 on the race. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican SuperPAC voted on with Speaker Ryan, spent about $ 100,000. That's way under the conservative groups of about $ 10.6 million spent in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district, which the Democrats overturned in March.
Democratic groups have spent much less on the Arizona race. The Democratic National Committee sent in like the RNC staff. The SuperPAC of the Working Families Party spent $ 100,000 to support Tipirneni. (Liberal groups spent $ 1.8 million in Pennsylvania.)
As a candidate, Tipirneni Lesko surpassed nearly $ 200,000
Lesko, a former state legislator, is known in the district for her work on laws that allow golf carts operating on the roadside, expanding the state's school voucher program and reforming public security pensions.
Although Tipirneni was unsuccessful, she said she will run again in November.
Bret Jaspers / KJZZ
"No one should come to work to defend hundreds of thousands of people by default, and that has been going on far too long in this district," she told her volunteers and co-workers in a high school auditorium over the weekend, on a ruckus Hoping Tuesday.
Contestants in other Arizona races observed this result. MEP Martha McSally, a Republican campaigning for the US Senate in an anticipated narrow election campaign, joined Lesko in her preparatory campaign.
"They will analyze," McSally said, referring to experts. "And then everything will be like this, Ooh, that's a hint for November." OK? Well, she has to destroy that. "