Debbie Lesko

Last updated

Debbie Lesko
Debbie Lesko, official portrait, 115th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from Arizona's 8th district
Assumed office
May 7, 2018
Preceded by Trent Franks
President pro tempore of the
Arizona Senate
In office
January 9, 2017 January 8, 2018
Preceded by Sylvia Allen
Succeeded by John Kavanagh
Member of the Arizona Senate
from the 21st district
In office
January 12, 2015 January 8, 2018
Preceded by Rick Murphy
Succeeded by Rick Gray
Member of the ArizonaHouseofRepresentatives
from the 21st district
In office
January 14, 2013 January 12, 2015
Preceded by J. D. Mesnard
Succeeded by Tony Rivero
Member of the ArizonaHouseofRepresentatives
from the 9th district
In office
January 9, 2009 January 14, 2013
Preceded by Bob Stump
Succeeded by Victoria Steele
Personal details
Born
Debra Lorenz

(1958-11-14) November 14, 1958 (age 61)
Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)Joe Lesko
Education University of Wisconsin–Madison (BA)
Website House website

Debra Kay Lesko (née Lorenz; born November 14, 1958) is an American politician and a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Arizona's 8th congressional district . The district is located in the West Valley portion of the Valley of the Sun and includes Glendale, Surprise, Sun City, Peoria, and part of western Phoenix.

Contents

Lesko served in the Arizona Senate from 2015 to 2018. She was president pro tempore of the Arizona Senate from 2017 to 2018. [1] Lesko also served as a member of Arizona House of Representatives from 2009 until 2015.

Lesko won the Republican nomination for Arizona's 8th congressional district special election. [2] She won the election on April 24, defeating Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni with 52.4% of the vote to Tipirneni's 47.6%. [3] She won a full term in November 2018, again defeating Tipirneni. She is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and is currently its only female member.

Early life

Lesko was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and grew up nearby, the daughter of Don and Delores Lorenz. She received a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Wisconsin and in the 1980s moved to Arizona, owning a construction sales business. She left an abusive marriage in the 1990s and later married Joe Lesko. [4] [5]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2018 special election

Debbie Lesko was the Republican nominee for the special election held to replace Congressman Trent Franks, who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment. She faced the Democratic candidate, physician Hiral Tipirneni, in the general election on April 24. [6] She was endorsed by President Donald Trump who said that Lesko was a "conservative Republican". [7] It was the closest contest in what is now the 8th since 1976, when Bob Stump won what was then the 3rd District with just 47 percent of the vote [8] (the district was renumbered as the 2nd in 2003, and has been the 8th since 2013).

She won the election on April 24, beating Democratic candidate Hiral Tipirneni with 52.6% of the vote to Tipirneni's 47.4. [3] The win was by a narrower margin than expected, [9] with observers suggesting that it was indicative of a coming Democratic wave in the 2018 mid-term elections. [10] [11] Indeed, it was the closest race in the district since Bob Stump, then a Democrat, won his first term in what was then the 3rd District with only 47.5 percent of the vote [12] (the district was renumbered as the 2nd in 2003 and has been the 8th since 2013).

According to the Associated Press, the election sent "a big message to Republicans nationwide: Even the reddest of districts in a red state can be in play this year." [13]

2018 general election

Lesko faced a rematch with Tipirneni in a bid for a full two-year term and won with a slightly wider margin, taking 55.5% to Tipirneni's 44.5 percent. [14] It was still the closest general election in the district in 42 years, and the closest that a Democrat had come to winning a full term in the district since Stump switched parties in 1982.

Campaign finance complaints

In January 2018, Lesko's campaign committee, Re-elect Debbie Lesko for Senate, gave $50,000 to Conservative Leadership for Arizona, a federal PAC authorized to spend independently of other campaigns. It was created eight days before taking the money from Lesko's state campaign committee. [15] The new PAC raised almost no other cash, records show, and the PAC used the money to support Lesko with yard signs, while her congressional campaign spent heavily on TV ads. Phil Lovas, a candidate in the Republican primary, complained to the Federal Election Commission and Arizona Attorney General alleging multiple violations in February 2018. [15]

The PAC maneuver also prompted criticism from the other Lesko opponent in the Republican primary, Steve Montenegro, who accused Lesko of "illegally funneling money into her SuperPAC and knowingly lied about it by filing false campaign reports." [15] A second complaint alleging federal campaign finance law violations was filed against Lesko in March 2018 by the Campaign Legal Center alleging that her transfer of $50,000 from her state campaign to an independent group that spent nearly all the cash backing her congressional run was illegal. [16]

Tenure

Committee assignments [17]

Caucus memberships


Political positions

Abortion

Lesko opposes abortion. [18] She has proposed legislation to give employers religious exemptions from providing contraceptives in health insurance plans. [19] [20] [21] She has proposed legislation that would allow health officials to conduct warrantless and unannounced inspections of abortion clinics, like they do for all other health institutions in the state, which critics said undermined the privacy of patients at the clinics. [22]

Donald Trump

In December 2019, she voted against impeaching President Trump. [23] She said there is "no proof, none, that the president has committed an impeachable offense." [24] In defending Trump, she falsely claimed that Trump had not asked the President of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. [25]

Economy, taxes and regulation

Lesko has said that she would have voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Republican Party's 2017 tax overhaul. [26] She favors a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and said that "on the federal level, there has to be a lot of areas where we can cut spending." [26]

In 2017, Lesko championed legislation that would allow payday lenders to provide loans at interest rates as high as 164% a year (the previous maximum was 36%). [27] [28]

In 2016, she opposed efforts to increase the minimum wage in Arizona to $10 by 2017 and then to $12 by 2020. [29]

Education

Lesko favors empowering private schools and charter schools. [30]

Environment and energy

Asked at a debate involving seven candidates in January 2018 whether she believed that humans contribute to climate change, Lesko did not raise her hand. [31] After a long pause, she said that the question was "loaded" and added, "Is some of it, maybe, human-caused? Possibly. But certainly not the majority of it. I think it just goes through cycles and it has to do a lot with the sun. So no, I'm not a global warming proponent." [31]

In 2016, Lesko crafted a measure that would give state utilities in Arizona the right to charge separate rates for customers who produced their own energy through solar panels. [32] Lesko crafted the measure with the assistance of utilities. [32]

Gun control

Lesko opposes changes to existing gun laws, saying "I think there's enough laws. The laws need to be enforced." [26]

Health care

Lesko opposes "universal health coverage" and favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). [26] She opposed Arizona's expansion of Medicaid coverage and sued former Arizona governor Jan Brewer after she expanded Medicaid. [33]

Immigration

During her 2018 campaign, Lesko made the construction of a border wall on the Mexico border the centerpiece of her campaign, and she pledged to back the Trump administration's hardline positions on border security and immigration reform. [34] [35] [30]

LGBT rights

Lesko strongly opposes the Equality Act, a bill that would expand the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She urged Congress members to vote against the bill. [36]

Electoral history

Debbie Lesko at a campaign event in Peoria, Arizona. Debbie Lesko (27816240978).jpg
Debbie Lesko at a campaign event in Peoria, Arizona.
U.S. House, Arizona District 8 Republican Primary, 2018
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanDebbie Lesko25,50835.77
RepublicanPhil Lovas17,03123.88
RepublicanSteve B Montenegro16,98723.82
RepublicanBob Stump3,8325.37
RepublicanClair Van Steenwyk1,6922.37
RepublicanChris Sylvester1,3701.92
RepublicanDavid Lien1,2611.77
RepublicanRichard Mack1,0141.42
RepublicanMark Yates7991.12
RepublicanChad Allen7471.05
RepublicanBrenden Dilley7341.03
RepublicanStephen Dolgos3450.48
Arizona's 8th congressional district special election, 2018 [44]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Republican Debbie Lesko 96,012 52.4% -15.97
Democratic Hiral Tipirneni 87,33147.6%+47.6
Total votes183,343 100.00
Plurality8,6825.2%
Republican hold Swing -16.0%
Republican special primary results, Arizona 2018 [45]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Debbie Lesko 27,047 35.37%
Republican Phil Lovas 18,65224.39%
Republican Steve Montenegro 18,10623.68%
Republican Bob Stump 4,0325.27%
Republican Clair Van Steenwyk1,7872.34%
Republican Christopher Sylvester1,4901.95%
Republican David Lien1,3411.75%
Republican Richard Mack 1,1911.56%
Republican Mark Yates8711.14%
Republican Chad Allen8241.08%
Republican Brenden Dilley8231.08%
Republican Stephen Dolgos3770.49%
Write-in 80.01%
Total votes76,459100%
Arizona's 8th congressional district special election, 2018 [46]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Republican Debbie Lesko 96,012 52.37% -16.18%
Democratic Hiral Tipirneni87,33147.63%N/A
Total votes'183,343''100%'N/A
Republican hold
Republican primary results, Arizona 2018
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Debbie Lesko (incumbent) 73,776 77.17%
Republican Sandra E. Dowling21,82522.83%
Total votes95,601100%
Arizona's 8th congressional district, 2018
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Debbie Lesko (incumbent) 168,835 55.46%
Democratic Hiral Tipirneni135,56944.53%
Write-in 13<0.01%
Total votes304,417100%
Republican hold

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References

  1. "Debbie Lesko". Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona State Legislature . Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  2. "Trent Franks stepping down from Congress amid complaints from 2 former female staffers". Arizona Republic. December 12, 2017.
  3. 1 2 Martin, Jonathan (April 24, 2018). "Debbie Lesko Wins Arizona Special Election for Congress, Rallying G.O.P." New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  4. Greg Giroux, Ready for Congress: Meet Rep.-Elect Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz.
  5. "Don Lorenz Obituary - Phoenix, AZ | The Arizona Republic".
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  11. Enten, Harry. "Why the win for Republicans in Arizona 8 is still good for Democrats". CNN. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
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  14. Arizona 2018 House results from CNN
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  16. "GOP primary winner, Debbie Lesko, faces 2nd federal election law complaint". Associated Press. March 2, 2018.
  17. "Committees & Caucuses | U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Lesko". lesko.house.gov. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
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  22. Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "House approves unannounced, warrantless abortion clinic inspections". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
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  24. TucsonSentinel.com. "Arizona lawmakers split, as House takes historic vote to impeach Trump". TucsonSentinel.com. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  25. "The GOP's closing impeachment argument: Denying basic facts". The Washington Post. 2019.
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  27. Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Effort to offer high-interest loans in Arizona appears to be dead". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  28. Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Proposed bill seeks to allow AZ lenders to offer new high-interest loan". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  29. Services, Howard Fischer Capitol Media. "Backers of higher Arizona minimum wage use extra cash to target candidates". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
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Arizona House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bob Stump
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 9th district

2009–2013
Served alongside: Rick Murphy, Rick Gray
Succeeded by
Victoria Steele
Preceded by
J. D. Mesnard
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 21st district

2013–2015
Served alongside: Rick Gray
Succeeded by
Tony Rivero
Arizona Senate
Preceded by
Rick Murphy
Member of the Arizona Senate
from the 21st district

2015–2018
Succeeded by
Rick Gray
Preceded by
Sylvia Allen
President pro tempore of the Arizona Senate
2017–2018
Succeeded by
John Kavanagh
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Trent Franks
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th congressional district

2018–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Conor Lamb
United States Representatives by seniority
335th
Succeeded by
Michael Cloud