Tag Archives: debbie lesko

A Pyrrhic Victory in Arizona Congressional District 8 for Republicans

Hiral Tepernini and Debbie Lesko

Dr. Hiral Tepernini got 82,318 votes, or 47.4%, but lost closely to Debbie Lesko, who got 91,390 votes, or 52.6%.

There was only one bit of good news for Republicans in the Arizona Congressional District Eight Election yesterday evening. Their candidate, soon to be Freedom Caucus Member Debbie Lesko, did win. Everything else was bad news for them. The reasons are as follows:

  • President Trump won this district by 21 points. Lesko won by only a little over five. The Democrat, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, and her team ran an excellent race, campaigning on health care, retirement security, and funding public education. She made inroads among Republicans and Independents outperforming how Secretary Clinton did in virtually every precinct.
  • The Democrats put up a fight. Dr. Tipirneni was the first Democrat to fight for this seat in six years. She and her people are smart and should learn how to build on their performance last night just in time for the electoral rematch this  November.
  • Enthusiasm is with the Democrats and Progressives for a variety of reasons ranging from an awakening for progressive solutions and disenchantment/disgust with what the President and his allies on the national and state stage offer.
  • The Republicans spent over a $1,000,000 in a “safe” district. The Democrats are probably hoping they drain their bank accounts on more of these “safe” districts. With her performance, Dr. Tipireni will probably get more attention from the National Party and small donors who see a very “gettable” seat in November.
  • This was the most conservative district in the State. Imagine what other strong Democrats can do, if recruited, in the other Congressional Districts in Arizona.

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CD 8 Special General Election Results

Arizona Secretary of State is reporting that the Special General Election for CD 8 (unofficial) results are:

Debbie Lesko (R)   91,390  52.6%

Hiral Tipirneni  (D)  82,318  47.4%

former State Senator Debbie Lesko

Voter turnout was 38.3 % of the 455,660 registered voters in CD 8.  This vacancy occurred when long-time Republican Congressman Trent Franks resigned in December, 2017 after allegations of a $5 Million request he made of his Congressional  aide to have his surrogate child.

Debbie Lesko is a former State Senator and Rep. from LD 21.  Dr. Tipirneni  is a political newcomer, an ER doctor and an immigrant from India.

http://results.arizona.vote/#/featured/6/0

The House Always Wins

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I’m not a gambler, but I do know that Sin City isn’t prospering because those who visit its casinos win more than they lose. Rather, the casinos of Las Vegas and those all around the world, prosper because in the end, the house always wins.

That truism comes to mind when I think about our Arizona Legislature and their non-stop assault on the state’s public education system. Yes, it is sad that on the day Save Our Schools Arizona turned in over 111,000 petition signatures for a voucher expansion veto referendum to our Secretary of State, I’m thinking about how the battle has just begun. Not only that, but I’m worrying the battle is likely to not end in the people’s favor because just like the casinos, the game is rigged against us.

Senator Debbie Lesko, the sponsor of SB 1431, (full expansion of vouchers) is no doubt already planning repeal of the law should the referendum actually qualify for the ballot. Why would she do that? Well, for one, because when Arizonans are given the opportunity to vote on public education, they usually support it. For another, if the repeal of the voucher expansion actually gets on the ballot in November 2018, she and her GOP colleagues know that the issue will bring public education supporting voters out to the polls. We know which party the majority of those voters are likely to come from, right? Continue reading

Arizona’s Voucher Battle Continues

Cross posted from RestoreReason.com.

The Arizona Republic reported today that Save Our Schools Arizona will now hire paid circulators to “boost the chances that voters get the last word on the legislatively approved expansion” of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (vouchers.) According to The Republic, leaders of SOSAZ had intended to gather the required 75,321 valid signatures with only volunteers by the August 8, 2017 deadline. Now though, the organization finds itself with unexpected money and has decided to hire paid circulators for the last push to get at least 120,000 petition signatures for sufficient cushion.

As is often the case in Arizona though, GOP leaders in the Legislature are already working to undermine the effort. Senator Debbie Lesko, a Republican from Peoria has been the prime proponent of the effort to expand vouchers and is coincidentally (or maybe not), the Arizona Chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC.) As the likelihood of getting the repeal referendum on the ballot increases, she is planning ways to end run the effort. One of those is for the Legislature to repeal SB 1431 thereby eliminating the need for a public vote. Then Lesko and her GOP pals would just pass another expansion in the next legislative session. This move would not only require opponent vouchers to start a new referendum drive from scratch, but would also prevent the voucher vote from drawing more Democrats to the polls in November 2018.

Whether the petitions are being circulated by paid circulators or volunteers, they must contain sufficient valid signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot. If you are an Arizona voter who hasn’t yet signed one of the petitions, please go to http://sosarizona.org/events or https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSchoolsArizona/ to locate signing opportunities. If there is no opportunity in your area, you can email SOSAZ at SaveOurSchoolsAZ@gmail.com to make other arrangements.

There is no doubt that Lesko and her buddies will do what they can to continue to thwart the will of Arizonans, as has been their modus operandi in the past. For now though, “we the people” must do what we can, to ensure our government stays “of the people.” When it comes to slowing down the attack on our public schools, repealing the full expansion of vouchers is where we need to focus our efforts now. The 95% of Arizona’s students that attend our public schools are counting on us and the future of our state depends on our engagement. Please do your part and sign a petition this week, or for sure, by August 8th!

Vouchers: Some Common Sense Questions

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you know corporate reformers are anxious to implement vouchers as a way to expand school choice. The secret sauce they say, is that the dollars follow the student because parents know best about what is best for their child’s education.

Just for a few moments though, I’d like to ask you to please forget whether or not you believe school choice and vouchers are the answer to “Make American Education Great Again.” Forget all the hype and promises, just ask yourself which of these scenarios makes more sense? Continue reading

Ooops, there it is!

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

We knew it was coming and awaited it with dread. And, drumroll please…crash goes the cymbal! Yes, here it is, this year’s attempt to exponentially expand Arzona’s voucher (Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, or ESA) program. Of course, the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) chief water carrier for Arizona, Senator Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, is the one proposing the expansion. Lesko claims the expansion of ESAs will “not lead to a mass exodus of children from public schools.” I, for the most part, agree with that statement since Arizona parents have made it clear district schools are their choice with 80% of students attending district schools and another almost 15% in charter schools.

But, to infer a massive voucher expansion will have no negative impact on district schools is disingenuous at best. No matter how slowly students may attrit from district schools, each student’s departure leaves behind a 19% budget shortfall. That’s because there are numerous fixed costs (teacher salaries, facility maintenance, utilities, buses, etc.) that cannot be reduced student by student. The siphoning of dollars from our district schools has been steadily increasing and just exacerbates an already inadequately resourced system.

This isn’t the first year the Legislature has attempted to expand the voucher program. In fact, they’ve been successful in expansions every year since the ESA program was launched in 2011. This isn’t even the first time a full expansion has been attempted, with a very similar proposal going down in flames last year due to public outcry and a perceived conflict with securing voter approval of Prop. 123. This year though, Lesko has sweetened the deal by requiring the testing of students attending private schools on vouchers. She says she “doesn’t personally think this requirement is necessary,” but obviously is trying to defuse the argument from voucher opponents that there is no accountability or return on investment for vouchered students. Continue reading