Arizona GOP winner to join Freedom Caucus

Arizona GOP winner to join Freedom Caucus
© Screenshot/Arizona's NBC 12 News

Rep.-elect Debbie Lesko (R), who narrowly won a special election in Arizona Tuesday night, is expected to join the House Freedom Caucus after she is sworn in, the conservative group’s leader, Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings CNN's Toobin: 'Swirl of suspicion' about more indictments not justified MORE (R-N.C.) told The Hill.

Both Meadows and former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTop GOP Judiciary rep: 'At this point the president has been proved right' about no collusion Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings Jim Jordan on Mueller probe: 'Distraction is finally over' MORE (R-Ohio) endorsed Lesko in her GOP primary earlier this year. And the Freedom Fund, the super PAC aligned with the Freedom Caucus, contributed to her campaign during the primary.

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“We felt she was the best candidate in the 8th District of Arizona. We look forward to having her join our ranks as a strong contributing member of the Freedom Caucus when she gets sworn in as a new member of Congress,” Meadows said in a Wednesday morning phone interview.

“We have every expectation an invitation to join the caucus will be made and that she will gladly accept,” he added.

To join the roughly 30-member Freedom Caucus, a GOP lawmaker needs to be invited by the group; that only happens after a formal vote by the members.

The Freedom Caucus has been a frequent thorn in GOP leadership’s side. It’s credited with pressuring then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner says it's Democrats' turn for a Tea Party movement House Republicans find silver lining in minority Alaskan becomes longest serving Republican in House history MORE (R-Ohio) to resign in the middle of his term in the fall of 2015 and has repeatedly clashed with retiring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down MORE (R-Wis.).

Lesko also owes her victory, in part, to GOP leadership. Ryan helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for her in the closing weeks of the campaign. And Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse leaders need to modernize Congress for the sake of America Overnight Energy: McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal | Centrist Dems pitch alternative to plan | House Republican likens Green New Deal to genocide | Coca-Cola reveals it uses 3M tons of plastic every year House GOP lawmaker says Green New Deal is like genocide MORE (R-Calif.) flew to Phoenix to campaign with Lesko last week.

Lesko, a former state legislator, defeated Democrat Hiral Tipirneni in a closer-than-expected special election to replace former Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.) in a deep-red district that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE won in 2016 by a 21-point margin.

Franks, a Freedom Caucus member and staunch conservative, resigned in disgrace in December after it was revealed he had offered to pay $5 million to a female staffer in his office if she would carry his child.