The water’s warm in CD8 and lots of Republicans are jumping in.
In a prolix announcement made moments ago on X, AZ House Speaker Ben Toma (R-22) announced that he would seek the CD8 seat being vacated by Debbie Lesko. Joining other state luminaries Abe Hamadeh, Blake Masters, and Anthony Kern, Toma touted his success in leading the Arizona House to key conservative wins, including tax reduction and school choice.
In his prepared announcement, Toma wrote, “Today, I’m announcing my candidacy for Congress in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District. Our country is in trouble and Washington DC is a mess. If we, as conservatives, don’t get our act together, we will doom the country to another four years of Joe Biden, and lose our majority in Congress. This is not the way.”
With at least four announced Republican candidates—and possibly five if former Congressman Trent Franks follows through on rumblings that he’d like to re-enter politics following his resignation amid a weird scandal with a staffer—standing out from the crowd will be a challenge for all hopefuls. One would think the endorsement of former President Trump, always coveted in a Republican primary, but perhaps even moreso in one so jammed with candidates, will be highly sought.
If that’s the case, Toma already has a couple strikes against him.
Toma has shared his opinion multiple times that Trump can’t win in Arizona. Then in May, Toma joined a group of establishment Arizona Republicans like House Majority Whip Teresa Martinez and State Sens. Ken Bennett and Frank Carroll in sending a treacly letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis begging him to run for president.
“We believe you are the right candidate at the right time, with the required combination of personal attributes we will require to unite our passionate party.”
Trump will not forget a slight of that magnitude or its preachy tone — the letter cries out for “someone who knows right from wrong.” And with Trump leading DeSantis in national polls 59-8 and the latter falling into a tie for second with Nikki Haley in Iowa—where DeSantis has put all his energy amid a “Is he wearing heels” scandal—the Florida governor isn’t in great position to help Toma.
Toma did score one valuable endorsement, though. Departing Congresswoman Debbie Lesko has pledged her support. In a shot at Masters and Hamadeh, she endorsed Toma: “Ben Toma lives in our district. He knows our district. He cares about the people that live in our district.” The Globe can forgive the Congresswoman for “people that live” instead of people who live, since only really bad Americans criticize grammar errors ;-).
…As a legislator and Speaker of the Arizona House, Ben has a proven, conservative track record for getting things done and for standing up for the principles that have made our nation great. Now, more than ever, we need principled, experienced leaders, like Ben Toma…
— Debbie Lesko (@DebbieLesko) November 2, 2023
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