CD 8 Special Election primary candidates who filed


Candidates interested in running for the congressional district 8 seat vacated by Rep. Trent Franks had until 5:00 p.m. on January 10 to file nominating petitions for the congressional district 8 special election.

The deadline has now passed and the field of candidates is now set for the primary. (Signatures are subject to challenge, so this field could narrow).

15 Tea-Publicans and 3 Democrats filed their nomination petitions.

The special election primary will take place on Tuesday, February 27, 2018. Early voting begins for Special Primary January 31, 2018.

The special election general election will take place on Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Early voting begins for Special General March 28, 2018.

So who is running in the CD 8 Special Election?

Chad Allen (R), healthcare executive

Kevin Cavanaugh (R), former Sheriff’s Deputy Chief, Police Detective and Internal Affairs Investigator, business owner, ran unsuccessfully for Pinal County Sheriff in 2016

Brenden Dilley (R), co-host of the Your Voice America talk show, author, entrepreneur, business executive

Stephen Dolgos (R), financial services industry compliance professional, navy veteran

Debbie Lesko (R), former State Senate President Pro-Tempore (resigned), former State Representative, “Kochtopus” ALEC member

David Lien (R), piano teacher, former council member in Willmar, Minnesota

Phil Lovas (R), SBA Regional Official (resigned), former State Representative

Richard Mack (R), former Graham County Sheriff and leader of the far-right extremist Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers movement

Steve Montenegro (R), former State Senator (resigned), Minister, former House Majority Leader, former Congressional Aide to Rep. Trent Franks

Bob Stump (R), former State Corporation Commissioner, former State Representative

Christoper Sylvester (R), Aerospace Engineer, Retired Navy Officer

Clair Van Steenwyk (R), retired businessman and political talk show host, and Vice President of the Sun City West Republican Group

Mark Yates (R), B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University and a Master of Computer Science from Arizona State University

Gene Scharer (D), retired public school teacher, UPS truck driver, Army veteran; Democratic nominee for the CD 8 seat in 2012, garnered 35% of the vote

Hiral Vyas Tipirneni (D), emergency room physician, cancer research advocate and on the board of directors of the Maricopa Health Foundation

Brianna Westbrook (D), LGBT activist, auto sales manager

The GOP candidates range from conservative to far-right extremist. Several of them are openly running as Donald Trump acolytes in his cult of personality. There is no GOP candidate who can reasonably be considered a “moderate Republican” in this race. There are simply no good choices on the GOP side to reverse the far-right extremism of Rep. Trent Franks, who vacated the CD 8 seat after allegations of sexual harassment.

Dr. Hiral Vyas Tipirneni has emerged as the strongest Democratic candidate in this district in many years. Tipirneni submitted 2,048 signatures, to 800 signatures for Westbrook, and 666 signatures for Scharer.

The most current FEC candidate finance report shows Tipirneni with respectable fundraising in this GOP voter registration edge district.

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Dr. Hiral Tipirneni and Brianna Westbrook were both recently profiled in The New Republic. The Women Who Want to Turn Trent Franks’s Seat Blue.

Brianna Westbrook was profiled by the Phoenix New Times last April.

Dr. Hiral Tipirneni was profiled by the Glendale Star last August.

If the most extreme of the GOP candidates emerges from the GOP primary, the Democratic nominee may, under the right set of circumstances, be able to overcome GOP tribalism and appeal to moderate Republicans in the district (if there are any)  to overcome the GOP voter registration edge. Consultant says Dems need to be lucky and good to win CD8:

Consultant Andy Barr said Democrats’ ability to make a stand will depend heavily on who wins the Republican nomination, as demonstrated in Alabama, and he suspects donors will need to see reliable data showing a competitive general election before serious money comes into play.

“There is just such an appetite for wins right now on our side,” he said. “But we have a lot of objectives this cycle and very real objectives. These candidates [running in CD8] are going to struggle.”

* * *

“If we have a superior candidate in a superior campaign and get lucky, we can win this seat. But we need those things to align,” Barr said.

Conventional wisdom in political prognosticating has been turned upside down over the past two years, so who the hell knows? Anything can happen.

If you live in CD 8, support your Democratic candidate.


  1. Did Kevin Cavanaugh actually run for Pinal County Sheriff? He was an announced candidate, but Pinal County Elections Republican primary info only lists Steve Henry and Mark Lamb (who won the Primary, then the General).

  2. I would love to know why CSPOA Constitutional Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association is listed and considered a ‘far right extremest’ organization.
    Is it ‘far right’ to be for and stand by our US Constitution?
    Is it ‘far right’ to be a Sheriff?
    Is it ‘far right’ to be a Peace Officer, Policeman, etc.?
    What exactly is a ‘far right extremest’ supposed to mean?

    There are many many members here in Arizona and across this great Nation of ours that are CSPOA members and take our US Constitution seriously. Many are current, past, retired, and former Sheriffs, Police Officers, Peace Officers who honor their position and their job that keep this Country, its cities, counties, states, districts, etc. safe from criminals.
    So for you who think we all are ‘far right’ extremest, I think you better think again and thank your lucky stars for these people who take their lives in their hands on a daily basis just to keep you safe from harm. My dad was a cop for 30 years, my uncle was a cop for 30 years, and my husband was a cop and then a Det. Sgt for 15+ years and was shot in the line of duty and almost died.

        • And just an FYI, for almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

          They were defending our rights long before anyone in your group was even born.

    • “Richard Mack’s central message is that the federal government has far overstepped its constitutional bounds and that county sheriffs have the rightful authority — and duty — to protect citizens from what he believes are its unlawful incursions. This idea that sheriffs have supremacy over other law enforcement agencies and even the federal government was born and gained traction in the 1970s and 1980s when it was pushed by the explicitly racist, anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus (Latin for “power of the county”), which capitalized on the Midwestern farm crisis of the era to promote an extreme antigovernment ideology. The Posse’s founding tract, the so-called Blue Book written by white supremacist Henry Lamont Beach, asserted the county was “the highest authority of government in our Republic.”

      There is little question that Mack has been an important player in the resurgence of the Patriot movement, which has seen its numbers mushroom from 149 groups in 2008, the year President Obama was elected, to 1,274 by the end of 2011. His ideas, which include a heavy emphasis on state sovereignty, resonate with the armed militias and others in the broader movement, in addition to racist extremists across the radical right who chafe at federal laws protecting minorities from hate crimes and discrimination.”


  3. Thanks for update that 3 Dems are running in the special primary. Updated Dem Candidate forum for January 16 for this CD 8 race. See our our image calendar for details.

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