Indian American physician Hiral Tipirneni defeated her Democratic rival Brianna Westbrook in Tuesday’s closely watched special 8th Congressional District primary on February 27th. Tipirneni, an emergency-room physician, and Westbrook, a progressive activist, were battling for the chance to take on the winner of the Republican primary in the April 24 special general election.
Republican Debbie Lesko won the GOP primary. The special election will settle who finishes the current two-year term for Trent Franks, who resigned in December after being accused of sexual misconduct. Elected leaders, activists, and fundraisers in the Indian-American community are celebrating the victory of an Arizona physician in that state’s 8th Congressional District Democratic primary.
“Thank you to everyone who knocked on a door, picked up a phone, & helped to spread our message through #AZ08! #grassroots,” said Dr. Hiral Tipirneni. She now has to defeat the Republican primary winner Debbie Lesko to possibly become the second Indian-American woman lawmaker on Capitol Hill.
The AAPI Victory Fund, a political action committee founded by an Indian-American Shekar Narasimhan, tweeted out immediately upon Tipirneni’s victory “Congratulations @Hiral4Congress #Mineta11 Candidate for winning Democratic Congressional District 8 primaryhttps://t.co/7aS1ZNsTzI via @azcentral #AAPIPower” The organization has endorsed her and is raising funds for her campaign.
Arizona’s 8th District is among the state’s most conservative, suggesting that whoever emerges from the Republican primary Tuesday is considered the favorite to head to Washington. But Democrats have fared better in federal elections across the country since 2016, suggesting the party will make a more competitive showing in the district than typically seen.
The New York Times does not give Tipirneni much of a chance at winning the seat describing District 8 as safely in Republican hands. Past elections results show Franks won 68.5 percent of the vote in the 2016 elections and almost 76 percent in 2014. However, it was a seat that was held by Democrat Gabby Giffords back in 2010. Giffords had to leave after being shot while addressing constituents. Giffords endorsed Tipirneni during the primaries.
The Arizona Democratic Party Chair Felecia Rotellini issued a statement congratulating Tipirneni, describing it as a hard-fought campaign. “She ran an incredible campaign focused on improving the lives of Arizonans in the Eighth Congressional District by offering real solutions for them. This is in direct contrast to the chaos Arizonans have seen on their television screens by the Arizona Republican Party,” Rotellini said, adding, ‘“The Eighth Congressional District deserves a representative that work to get things done for them – like safeguarding Social Security and Arizona’s AHCCCS while making sure their hard-earned tax dollars don’t go to waste in Washington. Dr. Hiral Tipirneni will do exactly that.”
“I think we won because our message was really connecting with voters, resonating,” a triumphant Tipirneni told The Arizona Republic. “I think they are looking for someone who brings something like my skill set to the table, somebody who is ready to work with people from all backgrounds and really focus on solving the problems at hand.”