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PHOENIX (AP) — Political consultants say Democrats running for a Phoenix-area congressional seat vacated by Republican Trent Franks’ resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment face an uphill climb due to the GOP’s strong registration edge and their own party’s likely focus on other Arizona races.

Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency room physician, and Brianna Westbrook, a transgender woman working in the automotive industry, are in the running to replace Franks in the 8th Congressional District special election, the Arizona Capitol Times reported .

Both hope to ride their image as political outsiders making their first runs for office.

But the special election already features an increasingly crowded Republican field, which includes state Sen. Steve Montenegro and former legislators Phil Lovas and Bob Stump, with others expected to join the race.

The special primary will be held on Feb. 27, followed by the general election on April 24. Candidates have until Jan. 10 to file paperwork to officially enter the race.

Chances are slim that a Democrat stands a chance in the special general election, said Former House Minority Leader Chad Campbell.

Republicans outnumber Democrats, 187,234 to 109,467, according to the most recent voter registration numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office.

There isn’t likely to be much Democrat money funneled into the 8th Congressional District race, especially considering more competitive congressional districts may be up for grabs, Campbell said.

Instead, the focus will be on Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat and, presumably, Republican Rep. Martha McSally’s, Campbell said. McSally is expected to vacate for a Senate run.

Those seats are must-wins for Democrats if they want any shot at getting a majority in the House, Campbell said.

Consultant Andy Barr said Democrats’ ability to make a stand will depend heavily on who wins the Republican nomination, as demonstrated in Alabama, and he suspects donors will need to see reliable data showing a competitive general election before serious money comes into play.

Franks resigned after a former aide told The Associated Press that he had pressed her to be a surrogate, offering her $5 million to carry his child.


Information from: Arizona Capitol Times,