Hometown paper nails GOP House candidate for hypocrisy in final debate


The conservative newspaper called out Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko's confusing and sad debate performance less than two weeks before the special election.

With the special election in Arizona's 8th Congressional District approaching its final days, Democratic ER doctor Hiral Tipirneni and Republican state Sen. Debbie Lesko took the stage Thursday at the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce, for a final joint appearance.

And Lesko's two-facedness on the national debt was so shameless that even her conservative hometown paper called her out.

As the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic noted, Lesko voiced her support for the GOP tax scam. She said she would have voted for it because it helped Arizona businesses pay bonuses to employees, even though analyses show the vast majority is being pocketed by executives and shareholders.

But Lesko also said she supports the so-called "balanced budget" amendment perennially proposed by GOP deficit hawks, which could trigger massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

As the Arizona Republic points out, Lesko supports this idea "without acknowledging the tax cuts as a source of the nation's growing debt."

This was not the only apparent confusion in Lesko's policy positions. She also claimed health care "needs to be free and open" — by which she later claimed she meant "free market." And two weeks ago, she said the Stormy Daniels payoff allegations should be investigated, then clarified she didn't really mean it.

Tipirneni, for her part, has been perfectly consistent. She supports universal health care and opposes massive tax cuts for corporations and millionaires.

Arizona's 8th District, in the northern suburbs of Phoenix, was left vacant by the resignation of disgraced Rep. Trent Franks, who was caught trying to bribe a female staffer to let him impregnate her. It is an extremely conservative district that voted for Trump by 21 points in 2016.

But Republicans seem fearful that Lesko could blow it. They have spent hundreds of thousands on field organizers in the district, and are still worried about the lack of volunteers. The risk this race could end up with a surprise Democratic victory like Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania clearly weighs on their minds.

Conversely, liberal groups are on the offensive. Democratic health care activist Ady Barkan took out a major ad buy in support of Tipirneni. And the Not One Penny Coalition, a group opposing the tax scam, dropped $500,000 on the race.

Republicans like Lesko no longer get the benefit of the doubt when they try to have it both ways. And the whole Republican Party knows it.