PHOENIX – U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, a conservative anti-abortion Republican, has resigned after revealing that he discussed surrogacy with two female staffers. One former aide told The Associated Press that the congressman pressured her to carry his child and once offered her $5 million to be a surrogate mother.
The eight-term lawmaker initially said he would leave office on Jan. 31. But after getting an ultimatum from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., he announced Friday he would step aside immediately, starting a clock for elections to replace him.
What’s the next step?
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey now has 72 hours from the time Frank left his post to schedule a special primary election and a special general election to find a new representative for the 8th Congressional District, a largely wealthy area of northern and western Phoenix suburbs.
The special elections are required under Arizona law because the vacancy is occurring more than six months before the next general election.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, will probably wait until Monday to announce the dates, said Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato.
Who wants to replace Franks?
Several conservative Arizona politicians have said they will run for Franks’ heavily Republican Congressional District. All are Republicans.
Bob Stump, a former member of Arizona’s House and past statewide-elected utility regulator, announced his candidacy on Twitter Thursday night after Franks first said he would resign.
Sen. Steve Montenegro announced on Facebook Friday afternoon that Franks had asked him to run for the seat.
Montenegro was previously a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, and recently said he would run for Arizona secretary of state.
The Arizona Republic newspaper reported that Arizona state Sens. Debbie Lesko and Kimberly Yee, who recently announced her candidacy for Arizona treasurer, said they are interested in running for Franks’ seat.
What about the Democrats?
Arizona Democrats have been using recent sexual misconduct allegations involving Republican lawmakers to attack Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona and retired Air Force Colonel who has said she will run next year for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, who is retiring.
McSally has referred to U.S. Rep. John Coyners Jr., a Michigan Democrat alleged to have sexually harassed female aides, as a “dirty old man.”
The Arizona Democratic Party said Friday she should also condemn Roy Moore, her party’s candidate in a special election for a U.S. Senate in Alabama. He has been accused by several women of making advances on them when they were teens.
The party said McSally is “playing politics on an issue that shouldn’t have a party identity” and should return campaign money she received from Franks.
-Associated Press writer Paul Davenport contributed to this report.