Republicans fear that another deep red seat is at risk in a special election.

Arizona House candidate Debbie Lesko is in danger, and Republicans know it.

That is why, according to a report from CNBC, outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan is hosting a D.C. fundraiser for her on Wednesday to the tune of $75,000, with an entry price of up to $2,500 per person.

This comes after reports that the Republican National Committee is making six-figure investments in the race.

Lesko, a former state senator from suburban Phoenix, should by all rights be sailing to an easy victory in the special election for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District. The seat was previously held by alleged sexual harasser Rep. Trent Franks, who suddenly resigned in disgrace last year.

Franks held the seat for 14 years and easily won re-election by huge margins every cycle. In 2016, Trump carried this district by 21 points.

But just as in other recent special elections like Alabama’s open Senate seat and Pennsylvania’s 18th District, the GOP is starting to blow a massive structural advantage.

Lesko has been plagued with campaign finance controversies from the start. She has been accused of illegally moving $50,000 to a super PAC supporting her, and — in an awkward twist of optics — accepted a maxed-out $2,700 campaign contribution from Franks himself.

She has also made contradictory statements on the campaign trail about health care, fiscal policy, and investigations of Trump, to the point where even her conservative hometown paper noted her policy incoherence in the final debate.

The upshot is that Lesko’s Democratic opponent, ER doctor Hiral Tipirneni, has a fighting chance in this deep red district.

Running on a progressive platform of universal health care, safeguarding Social Security, overturning Citizens United, protecting young immigrants, and fighting climate change, Tipirneni has outraised Lesko with small donors alone. And the most recent poll shows the race in a dead heat.

Arizona Democrats blasted Lesko for jetting off to Capitol Hill for the Ryan fundraiser.

“Arizonans should feel insulted that Debbie Lesko would rather party with Paul Ryan than discuss the important issues facing Arizonans,” said Drew Anderson, the group’s senior communications adviser. “But then again, Lesko supports gutting Medicare and healthcare access — so she’ll fit right in with the lockstep hypocrisy of the Republican establishment.”

Whether or not Ryan can pull Lesko over the finish line in the end, the very fact that Republicans have to fight for this seat at all is astonishing. And it is yet another signal that the GOP majority is in serious jeopardy.


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