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Top State Senator Running to Replace Trent Franks in Arizona

Disgraced GOP congressman resigned earlier this month over alleged sexual misconduct

A crowded pool of Republican hopefuls is forming to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
A crowded pool of Republican hopefuls is forming to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The president pro tempore of the Arizona Senate has entered the race to replace disgraced Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned this month over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Republican Sen. Debbie Lesko intends to resign from her state Senate seat to direct her energy at the 2018 GOP primary, she told the Arizona Republic.

The candidate pool to replace Franks is already swimming with Republican hopefuls, including former state lawmaker Phil Lovas, who most recently worked for President Donald Trump’s Small Business Administration; Steve Montenegro, another former state senator; and Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump.

Lesko is a Trump supporter, she told the newspaper. She supports tightened border security and the GOP tax code overhaul legislation passed by Congress on Wednesday.

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Franks, a House Freedom Caucus member, was one of the most conservative lawmakers in Congress and buttered his political bread with staunch opposition to abortion.

He allegedly offered a staffer $5 million to carry his child, The Associated Press reported Dec. 9. The staffer told the AP that Franks asked her at least four times to be a surrogate in exchange for money.

Franks made a similar offer to at least one other woman, Politico later reported.

Franks denied the allegations.

“I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff,” he said in a statement at the time.

Elected in 2002, Franks first represented the old 2nd District. The race for his vacant 8th District seat is rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. 

Arizona Gov. Greg Ducey has called a special primary election for Tuesday, Feb. 27, and a special general election for Tuesday, April 24.

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Photos of the week ending December 8, 2023