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 MeadowsJan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows Graham found Trump election fraud arguments suitable for 'third grade': Woodward book Allies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid MORE (R-N.C.) told The Hill.

Both Meadows and former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanAllies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee Watchdog group seeks ethics probe over McCarthy's Jan. 6 comments 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 BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger 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 RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms 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 McCarthyFifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill Watch live: McCarthy holds briefing with reporters The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks 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 FranksOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Arizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems MORE (R-Ariz.) in a deep-red district that President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe 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.