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Internal polling shows Hamadeh with early lead in race to replace Lesko

December 20, 2023

A Trump-backed candidate has an early lead in a crowded primary featuring a familiar cast of characters for a deep-red Arizona House seat.

An internal poll, first shared with POLITICO, showed Republican Abe Hamadeh, an unsuccessful 2022 candidate for Arizona attorney general, with a double-digit lead over his closest primary opponent in the race to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko in Arizona’s 8th District.

The poll, conducted by National Public Affairs — a firm run by former Trump aides — shows Hamadeh with 37 percent of support from likely Republican primary voters. He’s followed by Blake Masters, who lost in last year’s high-profile race against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, with 14 percent.

The other candidates registered in the single digits. That includes Lesko-endorsed state House Speaker Ben Toma, who has 7 percent. Former Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned from Congress after female staffers said he approached them about being a surrogate for him and his wife, has 6 percent. State Sen. Anthony Kern comes in at 3 percent.

About one-third of respondents were undecided.

It is still early in the race, and it’s possible the field shifts. Arizona’s filing deadline is in April, and the primary is in August.

A handful of candidates, including Hamadeh, Masters and Kern, have amplified false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. Hamadeh scored Trump’s endorsement earlier this month and is hoping it separates him from the rest of the field.

The poll says 58 percent of respondents would definitely or somewhat support Hamadeh, knowing that he was endorsed by Trump. Fifty-four percent of respondents say the same knowing he was endorsed by Kari Lake, a prominent Trump ally and election denier who is running for Senate next year. The district voted for Trump by double digits in 2020.

Trump had a mixed bag when it came to endorsement victories in last year’s competitive races. The former president endorsed Masters and Hamadeh in their unsuccessful races.Hamadeh lost the race for attorney general in 2022 by just over 200 votes, making it one of the closest elections in state history. Hamadeh challenged it in court for months — a legal battle that is still ongoing.

The survey includes 418 likely Republican primary voters, and was conducted Dec. 16-17 via landline phone calls and text messages directing respondents to complete a web survey. The margin of error is +/- 4.8 percentage points.

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