n a race closely watched far outside the district, Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican, successfully defended his 6th Congressional District seat—though not without a battle from Democrats eager to “flip” the district.
Hiral Tipirneni, a Democrat and Glendale doctor who raised a record $5 million to take on the veteran Schweikert, had a sizable lead when Maricopa County Elections Department released its first ballot count, hours after polls closed Election Day.
The next day, vote counts put Schwiekert in a narrow lead. By the end of the week, Schweikert’s lead grew to 17,000, with the Republican incumbent receiving 52% of the votes at the latest vote count.
Schweikert insisted he was never nervous.
“Politics is math,” he said with a chuckle. The way things played out, he said, “was pretty close to what we expected. A lot of people are too emotional about politics.”
The 6th Congressional District includes North Phoenix, North Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree and Paradise Valley.
“Anyone spending time watching the elections understood the Democrats did an amazing job getting people to vote early,” Schweikert said.
“That was a phenomenon all across the country. Democrats had concerns about COVID and didn’t want to vote in person. Republicans wanted to vote at the polls.”
Schweikert said he has trouble sleeping, spending restless time in the middle of the night creating spreadsheets to track trends. He said the way his district voted was “exactly how I thought it would go.”
Schweikert raised $2 million during the campaign, spending about $1.7 million, according to campaign finance tracker opensecrets.org.
Backed by Democrats eager to “flip” the seat, Tipirneni raised $5.3 million—a stunning figure for a political unknown.
Tipirneni lists no elected positions on her campaign website.
She was the Democratic nominee in 2018 for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, losing to Debbie Lesko by a wide margin.
She spent nearly $5 million attacking Schweikert, claiming he “betrayed our trust by putting himself and his partisan interests ahead of us.”
Though Schweikert was first elected to represent the district in 2010, and took 55% of the votes in his 2018 reelection, some viewed him as a vulnerable target.
In July, Schweikert reached a deal with the House Ethics Committee to pay a $50,000 fine. He was sanctioned for improper use of official resources for reelection efforts and for violating campaign finance rules. Schweikert said a former chief of staff was responsible for the violations.
According to a New York Times campaign story, Schweikert “has been dragged down by an ethics scandal that forced him to burn through much of his campaign funds on lawyers. Still, Republicans in the district hold a 12% voter registration advantage, and flipping it would require not only a blue wave, but also a blue tsunami.”
The wave looked like it was forming, but it died early, keeping the 6th Congressional District red with Schweikert.
Schweikert shrugged off his opponent’s attack ads.
“At a certain point, you’re no longer communicating the message—you have to ask yourself, did you have the right message?” he said.
Tipirneni did not respond to calls and emails from The Foothills Focus.
According to her campaign statement, she came to the U.S. as a young girl “when her family immigrated from India to this country to pursue the American dream.”
In a 2018 opinion story, she wrote “Washington is broken. ... I’m not a career politician. I’m a mom, an emergency medicine physician and cancer research advocate.
She said she left the ER to do research “after losing my mother and young nephew to cancer.”