Debbie Lesko has always been a few bricks short of a full load. She gets elected only because she has run from a “safe” Republican voter registration district where GOP tribalism means voters would vote for a cardboard cutout of a cartoon character if it had an “R” behind its name on the ballot.
This is why we cannot have nice things in Arizona.
Apparently the candidate interviews with the editorial board of The Arizona Republic did not go well for Debbie Lesko. Her opponent, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, stood head and shoulders above her.
Laurie Roberts of The Republic writes, Debbie Lesko v. Hiral Tipirneni: The difference is shocking:
The difference between the two is, in fact, startling – from their outlook on who they represent to their work histories. (Tipirneni spent 10 years as an emergency room doctor, Lesko spent nine years as a state legislator).
One of them has actual ideas to fix some of our most vexing issues and the other? Not. A. Clue.
Did I say their differences were startling? Actually, more like shocking, which possibly explains Tipirneni’s better-than-expected showing in a special election earlier this year to fill the seat vacated by Trent Franks.
Reporters and editors at The Republic recently sat down with the pair to talk issues.
Here then, in their own words, are where they stand on a few of the big ones:
On CD 8, their northwest Valley district:
Lesko: “I am a pragmatic Republican. I represent a conservative district.”
Tipirneni: “Forty percent of the district is Republican, which means 60 percent is not Republican. And that is what my campaign has been about, is about helping everybody.”
On the border wall:
Lesko says she supports President Donald Trump’s wall and notes that Tipirneni is against it.
“We voted on a bill that would $25 billion not only for the wall but for technology, more border agents, more integration.”
When asked where the money will come from:
“From our budget.”
Tipirneni says she’s not against spending money for a wall where it makes sense.
“I have not said that I am not for any physical barriers. We are looking at a $20 billion to $70 billion cost for a wall and if the goal is to keep us safer then let’s look at the data. Let’s find out where our weaknesses are.”
She says the Border Patrol is 30 percent short staffed and needs better surveillance equipment, drug sniffing dogs and x-ray equipment, given that most drugs now come through ports of entry.
“The largest growing percentage of our largest group of undocumented immigrants are people who fly over and overstay their visas. So a wall doesn’t do anything for that.“
On health care:
Tipirneni says she supports several pillars of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate, no lifetime cap on benefits, allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and protecting those who have pre-existing conditions from being locked out of insurance.
For those who don’t qualify for a healthcare subsidy but don’t have access to an employer-based plan, she proposes that they be allowed to buy into Medicare.
“What we know is that it has about one tenth of the overhead of the private insurance companies. … It is allowing the free market to work. This is act a fiscally conservative plan because it’s a buy in not a hand out and it allows them to compete. What happens is that costs come down, we get choice and actually, it’s a way to cover those people that fall in between, that don’t have employer based and don’t fall into a subsidy.”
Lesko says she also supports protecting those with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance until they are 26.
She objects to Tipirneni’s Medicare buy-in plan, calling it government-run health care. She would expand health-savings accounts and allow people to buy insurance across state lines and beyond that, doesn’t offer any plan.
“I just want more patient freedom, more freedom in the free market private sector. It’s something that I would have to, obviously, work on.”
On Social Security:
The Social Security trustees report, released earlier this year, projects that the combined trust funds for retirement and disability will be depleted in 2034..
Tipirneni says we face a tough set of choices: either raise the retirement age or impose new taxes to keep the system solvent. She opposes raising the retirement age and instead supports “slight bumps” in the payroll tax and the amount of earned income that can be taxed for Social Security.
“It’s not like you like you can snap your fingers and magically save Social Security. … I believe it could be a combination of the two. You could have a slight bump in the payroll tax and a slight bump in raising the limit because right now, that limit on what you can tax for Social Security is around $128,000 so you’re talking billions of dollars untaxed as far as not contributing to our Social Security fund.”
Lesko said we should cut down on fraud and grow the economy and beyond that didn’t offer any proposal to shore up Social Security. She says she opposes tax increases and doesn’t know if she would raise the retirement age.
“It’s something that I would have to study and meet with all the stakeholders and that type of thing. … Until I would really dig into that and let’s face it. I’m what, five months in Congress? Do you think I’m going to be the lead person to take on Social Security and Medicare?”
Lesko will do whatever the GOP House Freedom Caucus tells her to do. Thinking is hard.
This interview fail follows a recent scandal in which the Lesko campaign went full Roger Stone GOP ratfucking dirty tricks by posting “fake doctor” signs next to Dr. Tipirneni’s campaign signs. Ethics smethics!
The Lesko campaign has since agreed to take down the false signs, only after getting caught red-handed.
The Republic‘s E.J. Montini lit up Lesko for it in a pair of opinions. Hiral Tipirneni is a doctor and Debbie Lesko is a fake:
Dr. Hiral Tipirneni is an actual medical doctor, in spite of the insipid signs being posted next to Tipirneni’s campaign signs by Republican Debbie Lesko.
Lesko currently represents Arizona’s 8th Congressional district, which includes much of the north and west portions of the Valley, like Sun City, Sun City West, New River, Goodyear, Peoria, Luke Air Force Base and more.
* * *
[T]he incumbent and her party must be spooked by the support Dr. Tipirneni has been receiving; otherwise, why the sleazy campaign antics?
Unless, perhaps, it just comes naturally.
* * *
Because there is an R after her name, Lesko manages to convince good people to vote against their own best interests, yet has the nerve to call Tipirneni a “fake doctor.”
And in a second opinion (kudos on the caption btw), Doctors diagnose Debbie Lesko as a sleaze:
You know a politician is having a bad day when she gets blasted by a political action committee that … endorsed her?
Welcome to the world of Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko.
The physicians that make up the Arizona Medical Political Action Committee (ARMPAC) on Saturday diagnosed Lesko as a sleaze.
Lesko’s campaign had been trolling the campaign signs of Democrat Dr. Hiral Tipirneni and placing next to them signs reading “fake doctor.”
Which is a lie.
While no longer seeing patients, Tipirneni has a medical degree and maintains a license.
The physicians’ PAC that endorsed Lesko agrees and told Lesko as much, then released a statement reading in part:
We conveyed to the Lesko team ArMPAC’s (Arizona Medical Political Action Committee) position that despite the fact that Dr. Tipirneni is not currently treating patients, it does not make her any less of a real doctor of medicine.
Lesko, in turn, agreed to take down the falsely worded campaign signs.
It’s a little late, of course, like giving someone a vaccine after they’ve already got the flu.
Then again, in politics there is no inoculation for dishonesty.
C’mon CD 8 voters! You have a clear choice of a far superior candidate to represent you in Congress. Put aside the mindless GOP tribalism and vote for the more qualified and superior candidate. Don’t you deserve better than the dimwitted and unethical Debbie Lesko?