Race for Congressional District 8 closer than expected

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The special election to fill the seat left by Trent Franks in Congressional District 8 is drawing near, and an Emerson College poll showed that Democrat Hiral Tipirneni was leading Republican Debbie Lesko by one percentage point.

CEO of OH Strategic Communications Wes Gullett says another poll showed that Lesko was up by 10 percent, so it’s hard to say which polls are more accurate. He says the Emerson poll oversampled independents and younger people.

“Polls are only good if you ask the right people the right questions,” Gullett says.

Bill Scheel with Javelina Consulting agrees that while the polls are showing different results, it’s still a much closer margin than anyone was expecting. The Tipirneni campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from small donors. It shows fantastic grassroots support, he says. On the other hand, Lesko has more endorsements and more special interest donations.

While the grassroots support is enough to make things competitive, Gullett says it’s not enough to cause Tipirneni to win. Some of the undecided may sway more to the Democratic side, but all it will do is make the results closer, he says.

“This is an overwhelmingly Republican district, comprised primarily by Sun City,” Scheel says. “It’s very conservative. I think they are now having the opportunity to really confront what the Republican administration has produced over the last year, which isn’t much, and they’re going to vote based on that.”

Gullett predicts Lesko will have an easier time in November because “so many other Republicans are going to have tougher times.”

The outgoing congressman Trent Franks is endorsing and donating to Lesko’s campaign. However, his endorsement of Steve Montenegro didn’t secure him the Republican nomination. What will work in Lesko’s favor, Gullett says, is the fact that she has been working for Sun City during the last 20 years.

“She’s represented them [Sun City] for a long time,” Gullett says. “One thing we always know in the Republican party, people in Sun City – they vote.”

The special election will take place on Tuesday, April 24.

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