Republicans are fretting that a front-runner for an Arizona congressional seat — a married minister involved in a sexting scandal — will pull a Roy Moore and hand the seat to Democrats if he wins Tuesday’s special-election primary.
The seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Trent Franks — who resigned last December over his own sex scandal — should be an easy hold for Republicans.
But a bombshell report of nude photos and text messages exchanged between the candidate, former state Sen. Steve Montenegro, and a legislative staffer — published just a week before the election — has left GOP operatives worried that "it could be Alabama all over again," said Shiree Verdone, who ran Arizona Sen. John McCain's 2010 Senate race.
Before the turmoil, Montenegro had lined up endorsements from Franks and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whose leadership PAC boosted Montenegro in TV ads. He was tied in the polls with Debbie Lesko, his former colleague in the state Senate — both quit the chamber to run for the seat — when ballots were mailed out at the end of January. "Deep down, I'm worried because I don't want this to be another Roy Moore situation," Verdone added. —ELENA SCHNEIDER @ap.images