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 MeadowsThe Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan GOP struggles with retirement wave MORE (R-N.C.) told The Hill.

Both Meadows and former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDemocrat accuses GOP of opposing DC statehood because of 'race and partisanship' The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' Trump slams Democrats as 'shameful' after Lewandowski hearing 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 reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' 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 RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas 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 McCarthyAmerica's newest comedy troupe: House GOP Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices Modernize Congress to make it work for the people 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 TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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.