Nearly seven years after the #MeToo movement drove him out of Congress, former Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is considering a run to recapture his old seat.
In a statement to the Western Journal, Franks said he is the only conservative candidate in the race to replace outgoing Rep. Debbie Lesko (D-AZ) and that his past transgressions should not be lumped in with the allegations of sexual harassment which drove others like former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) from office. Franks resigned after staff members complained he put them in an “uncomfortable” position while discussing ongoing fertility challenges with his wife.
“Substantively, I am the only candidate in the race with an unassailable conservative congressional legislative and voting record,” Franks said in a statement. “It is hard to overstate the enormous advantage and leverage 15 years of congressional seniority gives me to be able to make an immediate difference for Arizona and this country in this critical time. This point alone played a substantial role in my decision to run.
“I believe any thinking person recognizes that it is a profoundly dangerous time in the world for America and our children’s future. Joe Biden and the lunatic left seem hell-bent on making this, the greatest nation in the history of the world, unrecognizable,” Franks added.
First elected to Congress in 2003, Franks carved out an image as a defense hawk who used his position on the House Armed Services Committee to fortify national defense spending, sponsoring legislation to support investments against electromagnetic pulse attacks and support missile infrastructure spending.
In August 2017, then-Speaker Paul Ryan approached Franks with complaints from two members of his staff that he discussed the challenges of surrogacy with his wife, a charge that Franks “did not deny.” Despite countering that his offense was not comparable to other, more egregious acts highlighted by #MeToo supporters, he chose to resign rather than defend himself in what he felt would be a biased investigation.
“[I]n the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation,” Franks wrote in his resignation at the time.
“Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff,” he said.
Documents obtained by the Journal and provided by an ally of Franks said he has since reconciled with the two former staffers.
The 8th District is reliably Republican and was won comfortably by former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. To win his seat back, Franks will need to survive a crowded GOP primary. Three Democrats, all unelected to lower offices, are competing to win their party’s nomination. A win by Franks would be a welcome victory for House Republicans who are contending with a number of other resignations this year that will strain their ability to keep a majority in 2025.