Former State Senator Steve Montenegro says there is no truth to a report that he is considering a primary challenge to AZ-08 Congresswoman Debbie Lesko. A widely circulated DC political gossip sheet reported yesterday that such a challenge was in the works.
Montenegro says he is happy to be getting a break from politics. Montenegro feels blessed to have been invited to take on a “larger challenge” as a ministry pastor at Catalyst Church and as Executive Director for Desert Reach; a 501c3 associated with the church, that helps young students graduate from high school and prepare for college and/or be job ready.
Montenegro says he has had heard from people urging him to run for everything from State Representative to County Recorder and County School Superintendent, but at the moment he is enjoying getting to spend his time being a husband, father, and pastor.
“It has always been about service, and the good Lord knows I’m ready and willing to go wherever He wants me to whenever He wants me to. At the same time it has also been a real blessing to get to take a break and be 100 percent focused on my family.”
Montenegro served nearly 10 years in the Arizona Legislature and put together one of the most reliably conservative records over that time. His 2018 congressional campaign was endorsed by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Dr. James Dobson, former Congressman Trent Franks, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and many others, but the rough and tumble primary turned nasty late when Lesko’s campaign accused the Russell Pearce-endorsed Montenegro of being pro-amnesty and the media whipped up a frenzy over a topless picture a State Senate staffer had sent Montenegro a year or two before. Lesko ended up winning the 12-candidate primary with 35% of the vote and was re-elected to a full term in 2018.
Montenegro became a conservative favorite during the Affordable Care Act/Medicaid expansion debates in 2014. A video of Montenegro’s impassioned speech on the floor of the House in opposition went viral. Montenegro legally immigrated to the United States from El Salvador with his family when he was 5 years-old. He was first elected to the Arizona Legislature in November of 2008. Among the many notable bills he helped pass was the American Civics Act requiring Arizona’s High School students to pass the same civics test required of newly naturalized citizens. Montenegro was the primary sponsor of that bill and it ended up being copied by dozens of states across the country.