Hiral Tipirneni won’t “commit” to supporting Nancy Pelosi — but largely supports Pelosi’s agenda

PHOENIX — Democratic congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni wouldn’t commit to supporting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during an interview this week, but she has largely supported the Democratic leader’s agenda.

In a new article Tuesday about the U.S. House race in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, NBC News reported that the Democrat “declined to commit to supporting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi if elected.”

“I don’t know who’s going to throw their hat in the ring,” Tipirneni said during the interview.

Tipirneni’s decision to distance herself from the embattled Democratic leader comes only one week after the candidate was mocked as out-of-touch for claiming that $1,200 tax-reform bonuses are “not going to cover anything” for American workers. Her dismissal of a $1,200 bonus was compared to Pelosi’s infamous gaffe in January 2018, when she dismissed similar tax-reform bonuses as “crumbs.”

However, despite keeping herself at arm’s-length on the campaign trail this week, Tipirneni has supported the Democratic leader’s agenda on policies ranging from tax reform to health care and immigration.

On tax reform, Pelosi has expressed support for repealing the legislation, which she has repeatedly criticized since before its passage. Tipirneni has used similar language to criticize the tax package, calling it “a Trojan horse.”

On health care, both Pelosi and Tipirneni have walked a fine rhetorical line between the Affordable Care Act and a single-payer system. In 2009, before the passage of President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Democratic leader said that the bill would need to include “a strong public option” in order to pass the U.S. House, but Pelosi has not yet endorsed the “Medicare-for-all” system proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders.

Tipirneni also suggested implementing a “public option” during a recent candidate forum but pushed back on the assertion that she supports a “Medicare-for-all” system. (The Democrat tried to distinguish her support for “universal coverage” from “universal health care,” which her Republican opponent, former state senator Debbie Lesko, dismissed as political “semantics.”)

On immigration, Pelosi has criticized the president’s proposal for a border wall as “immoral” and said in April 2017 that “building a wall is not an answer.” Tipirieni echoed those comments during a March 2018 interview on 3TV, during which she said that “the wall is not the answer.”

Outside groups tied to the Democratic Party have for the most part abandoned Tipirneni’s candidacy. It was reported last week in the Arizona Capitol Times that the party has left the Democrat “to fend for herself” in the conservative district at a crucial time before Election Day.


Democrat groups abandon Hiral Tipirneni in CD-08

PHOENIX — Groups affiliated with the Democratic Party have largely abandoned Hiral Tipirneni’s uphill congressional bid, the most recent indication that the party no longer believes it can win Arizona’s conservative eighth district.

Tipirneni, long seen as an underdog in the race against Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko, has suffered from several missteps in recent weeks. The Democrat hosted a campaign event in the wrong district in mid-March and, during a subsequent televised candidate debate, dismissed the pay increases benefiting American workers as a result of tax reform.

Tipirneni’s claim that $1,200 bonuses are “not going to cover anything” was widely ridiculed by Republicans, who called the wealthy Democrat out-of-touch and compared the response to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s “crumbs” gaffe from a few months earlier.

Now, the Democratic Party seems to have noticed — and its willingness to entertain such a candidacy appears to have waned.

In recent weeks, groups affiliated with the party “have left [Tipirneni] to fend for herself,” according to a new article in the Arizona Capitol Times. “All the while, there has been nothing but crickets from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — or at least from its pockets,” the article continued.

The Democratic Party’s decision to step away from the congressional race echoes comments made by Laurie Roberts, a liberal columnist at the Arizona Republic, who called the state party’s chairwoman “delusional” for trying to convince people of the “pipedream” that Democrats could win.

Tipirneni painted herself as a moderate Democrat throughout the general election but was criticized for her liberal position on immigration — she said that a border wall is “not the answer” — and support for a “universal coverage” health care system.

“How are you going to pay for this?” Lesko asked at a recent debate, referring to Tipirneni’s position on health care. “You can’t just say, you know, ‘Oh, I want to give free things to everybody’ and not have a way to pay for it.’”


Hiral Tipirneni: A $1,200 tax reform bonus is “not going to cover anything”

PHOENIX — Congressional candidates Debbie Lesko and Hiral Tipirneni faced off in their first televised debate Sunday, locking horns on issues ranging from immigration to health care to tax reform.

Lesko, a Republican, was the first to speak. She introduced herself to viewers by highlighting her bipartisan record in the state legislature.

“I have a long history — 20 years — of being involved in the West Valley, and I have a strong track record of working with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done,” she said.

Tipirneni, a Democrat, meanwhile, painted herself as an outsider who can fix the problems facing Washington, D.C.

Both candidates were asked — in different ways — about their support (or lack thereof) for President Donald Trump. Lesko told the host that, while she doesn’t agree with everything that the president does or says, “our economy is doing good” and “consumers are very confident” under the new administration.

“I do think he’s followed through on his promises to the American people and he’s doing a good job,” Lesko said.

One of the promises she cited was the tax reform package that the president signed into law in 2017.

“A lot of our businesses have given raises to their employees, and I think that’s a really good thing,” Lesko said, adding that “businesses are booming” across Arizona as a result.

Tipirneni called the tax reform package “a Trojan horse” and disagreed with Lesko’s assessment that middle-class families benefited from the resulting tax relief and pay increases.

“If you have $1,200 back a year, that’s about $100 a month — and, with the increase in premiums and child care costs that most middle-class families are struggling with, that’s not going to cover anything.”

Many observers criticized Tipirneni’s dismissive claim — that $1,200 is “not going to cover anything” for families — as out-of-touch, citing her family’s significant wealth. The Democrat’s mountainside home, estimated to be worth more than $1 million, is outfitted with solar panels, a swimming pool, and a personal tennis court.

(Click Here To Watch The Exchange.)

Others compared the gaffe to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s characterization of workers’ $1,000-plus tax-reform bonuses as “crumbs.”

Asked whether she is a progressive Democrat or a moderate Democrat, Tipirneni responded that she is the latter. She described her position on immigration as being close to that of Senator John McCain but doubled-down on her opposition to the construction of a border wall between the United State and Mexico. She has called a border wall “not the answer.”

“The wall — although the idea makes us feel safe — we know that it’s not legitimately going to make us any safer,” the Democrat said during Sunday’s debate.

Lesko also criticized Tipirneni’s health care proposal, which she characterized as “a Bernie Sanders Medicare-for-all plan that both sides said would cost enormous amounts of money.”

“More government bureaucracy — really radical,” Lesko concluded. “Not a fit for this district at all.”


CD-08 Democratic candidate Hiral Tipirneni accidentally holds campaign event in wrong district

PHOENIX — Democratic candidate Hiral Tipirneni held a campaign event Thursday evening to hear what the residents of Arizona’s eighth congressional district are looking for in their next U.S. representative … but she accidentally held the event in the wrong district.

Tipirneni, an underdog candidate running for the open U.S. House seat formerly held by Congressman Trent Franks, advertised a “Meet & Greet” for prospective supporters of her campaign.

“Join the Maricopa County Democratic Party at a Meet and Greet with Dr. Hiral Tipirneni for Congress,” the invitation said. “Let’s talk about important issues facing our country and Congressional District 8.”

The problem? The event — located at 14301 North 87th Street in Scottsdale — wasn’t held the district Tipirneni is running to represent. The “Meet & Greet” took place in Arizona’s sixth congressional district, far away from families eligible to vote for her.

According to screenshots taken by the National Republican Congressional Committee, recipients of the invitation weren’t pleased. “Yes, something in the west valley would be nice,” one Facebook user comment. “Scottsdale is farther than I want to travel,” said another.

“Before trying to impose Nancy Pelosi’s far-left agenda of higher taxes, socialized medicine, and weak borders, maybe Hiral Tipirneni should learn where the district she’s running in is actually located?” suggested Jack Pandol, an NRCC spokesman.

The Republican National Committee also weighed in.

“Hiral Tipirneni is not only out of touch with the values of the voters in the 8th district, she’s not really sure where the district is even located,” RNC spokeswoman Christiana Purves added.

Tipirneni has been an outspoken opponent of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies since securing the Democratic nomination in February, dismissing the idea of a border wall as “not the answer” and recommending that the proposed funds be spent on “clean energy” and “renewable energy sources.”

Laurie Roberts, a liberal columnist for the Arizona Republic, recently called Arizona Democratic Party chair Felecia Rotellini “delusional” for suggesting that Democrats will win the heavily Republican district.

Tipirneni will face Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko in the general election on April 24.


Laurie Roberts: Felecia Rotellini Is “Delusional” Over CD-8 “Pipedream”

PHOENIX — Laurie Roberts, the liberal writer known for her columns in the Arizona Republic, called the state Democratic Party’s chairwoman “delusional” Monday because of how much the time and energy the party is spending on Arizona’s eighth congressional district.

Felecia Rotellini, who served as an appointee of former Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, was elected as the Arizona Democratic Party’s new chairwoman in January 2018. Since then, the state party has sent out several fundraising emails to supporters about its efforts to “flip” control of the seat from Republican to Democrat.

During an interview this weekend with CNN, Rotellini said of the open congressional seat: “I believe, bottom-line, we can win.”

That interview apparently prompted Roberts, whose columns almost always take a hostile position toward the Republican Party, to publish a response to the Democratic Party’s overflowing optimism about a seat widely considered safe in Republican hands.

“It’s official: Arizona’s Democrats have moved to fantasyland,” Roberts wrote. “How else can you explain the party’s top dog predicting that a Democrat will be replacing Trent Franks in Congress?”

She went on to wonder if Rotellini was “either delusional or it’s just a part of the job description that she’s required to promote this pipedream that Democrats can win in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.”

Rotellini was immediately mocked upon taking the new job as chairwoman after the state Democratic Party bragged that she would “rip all of the [Republican U.S. Senate] candidates to shreds.”

“Just like she ripped [Mark Brnovich] to shreds in 2014, right?” the Arizona Republican Party’s then-spokeswoman replied, referring to Rotellini’s state attorney general race. (Attorney General Brnovich took office in January 2015.)

The general election for the open congressional seat between Republican Debbie Lesko and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni is scheduled for April 24.

Tipirneni gave her first major interview of the general election on Sunday, when she criticized President Donald Trump’s immigration plan by saying, “The idea of a (border) wall is not going to make us safer.” She suggested that the funding for the wall could be better spent on other things, including “clean energy.”


Democrat Hiral Tipirneni: “The (border) wall is not the answer”

PHOENIX — Democratic congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni slammed President Donald Trump’s border wall proposal Sunday evening and called for more regulations on gun owners during her first interview in the general election.

Tipirneni, who is running for the open U.S. House seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, appeared on 3TV’s “Politics Unplugged” to talk about her ongoing campaign and what she wants to accomplish in Washington, D.C., if elected.

Tipirneni and host Dennis Welch touched on several issues throughout the interview, including the administration’s trade policies — which the Democratic candidate dismissed as not “well thought-out” — and the country’s immigration system.

“I absolutely support a clean DREAM Act if possible but definitely that path to citizenship,” she said, defending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy implemented by President Barack Obama. “You know, it starts with temporary permanent residency and then permanent residency and then citizenship.”

Tipirneni contended that there is more Congress can do to secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico but argued that “the wall is not the answer … The idea of a wall is not going to make us safer.”

(WATCH: “The Wall Is Not The Answer”)

When pressed for details on her notion that the border wall funding should be directed elsewhere, the Democratic candidate responded that “clean energy” and “renewable energy sources” would be a better place to spend the money.

Debbie Lesko, the Republican nominee, took a different tune, calling DACA “totally unconstitutional” and saying that “what we have now is basically amnesty.”

“I agree with President Trump’s plan to secure the border because government’s number-one role is protecting its citizens,” Lesko, a former state senator, said. “I think we need to build the wall. We need to add more border agents. We need to end the chain migration.”

Welch then asked Tipirneni, the Democratic candidate, about her thoughts on the second amendment and whether Congress needs to take action on the issue. She responded that more gun regulations and stronger enforcement of existing regulations are needed, including “comprehensive background checks.”

“We need to make sure there’s that no-fly, no-buy policy in place,” Tipirneni said. “If you can’t fly on a plane because you’re a potential threat, you certainly shouldn’t be buying a gun. Making sure that people are properly registering their firearms and that they’re properly trained and properly storing them.”

Tipirneni also said that Congress needs to close “loopholes like gun shows and person-to-person sales and Internet sales.”

The special general election is on April 24.