(The Center Square)– Former Republican U.S. Senate nominee Blake Masters officially entered the race for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District on Thursday.
Congresswoman Debbie Lesko left the door open for a competitive primary in her solidly-Republican district in northwest Maricopa County when she announced she would not seek re-election early last week.
“We are so blessed to call Arizona home. But the sad truth is, life is getting harder for too many families in Arizona,” Masters said in his announcement video.
Masters is the second major contender to jump in the race, as former attorney general nominee Abraham Hamadeh entered almost immediately after Lesko’s announcement. The two Republicans campaigned on a slate together in the 2022 midterm election but took different approaches after their losses.
Hamadeh has stayed in the public eye fighting his narrow loss in court, whereas Masters conceded his race, which he lost by a wider margin, to Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
Former gubernatorial nominee turned Senate candidate Kari Lake endorsed Hamadeh, and Lesko will be backing state House Speaker Ben Toma, who has yet to announce his bid, Punchbowl News reported.
State Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, also appeared to throw his name in the race, as a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, thanked him for signing a pledge supporting term limits. Kern then acknowledged the post on Wednesday night with “#Congress.”
“I’m HONORED to have Kari Lake’s endorsement in this race. We’ve never seen a fighter like Kari and I look forward to working with her to Make America Great Again,” Hamadeh posted Thursday morning.
Although the primary is not until next August, early polling data reveals a mixed bag for the candidates. A National Public Affairs poll of 301 likely voters has Hamdeh polling at 31%, Masters at 24% and Toma at 11%.
A Data Orbital poll of 450 likely voters conducted from Oct. 19 to Oct. 21 showed Masters in the lead with 33.2%, Hamadeh at 18.4%, Toma at 6.8% and Kern at 5.5%. More than 32% remained undecided.
When it comes to a general election outlook, Lesko ran unopposed for the seat in 2022, but Democrat Greg Whitten is in the race this cycle.