The final tally gave Lasko a victory by about 9,000 votes, or 52 percent of ballots. President Donald Trump won the district by 21 percentage points in 2016 and Mitt Romney won it by 25 percentage points in 2012. Still, the GOP took nothing for granted, with party committees and PACs investing more than $1.1 million in ads and get-out-the-vote efforts, and tapping Trump for robo-calls to voters.
But after the previous representative, Trent Franks, resigned following revelations he had offered $5 million to an aide in exchange for carrying his child, Arizona Democrats rallied to Ms. Tipirneni.
The Associated Press projected the race on Tuesday night shortly after initial results were reported.
Lesko is a former state representative and senator; Tipirneni is a physician specializing in emergency care and a first-time candidate for public office. On the one hand, it won't alter the partisan makeup of the New York State Assembly, which is already controlled by the Democratic Party.
"CNN has projected that Republicans won the special election in Arizona's 8th Congressional District, but once again Democrats have over-performed in a deep red district, in another sign the national environment is in the their favor", writes the left-leaning network.
Lesko will fill the seat through the end of this congressional term in January and must run for re-election in November to continue serving.
Finally, Republicans had a good candidate in Lesko. The GOP faces fierce political head winds, the drag of an unpopular president and the retirement of its House leader, Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.
Almost 174,000 residents in the 8th District went out to vote, with 91,390 - or 52.6 percent - checking Lesko's box in the ballot to 82,318 - or 47.4 percent - opting for the Indian American Tipirneni.
"Nancy Pelosi wants to send a liberal Democrat to Congress to represent you". The Working Families Party's superPAC spent $100,000 to support Tipirneni. Lesko was not a scandal-plagued candidate - like Roy Moore in Alabama.
Compared with the race earlier this year that saw Democrat Conor Lamb's unlikely win in suburban Pittsburgh, spending in the Arizona district was relatively minimal and Trump kept his distance. Making a push for older voters, she had said Lesko would vote to go after entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid to pay for tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy.
It also means, however, that poor turnout is not an excuse for Republicans in this race. Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in what is expected to be a tight general election race, joined Lesko at her pre-canvassing pep rally.