Republican U.S. Senate rivals Wil Cardon and Jeff Flake announced a slew of new television ads, with Cardon passing the $3 million mark in spending on the air.
Cardon announced four new ads on Tuesday, three of which slam Flake for his positions on illegal immigration, energy taxes and the term-limits pledge he made when he first ran for Congress in 2000. Cardon campaign spokeswoman Alyssa Pivirotto said the ad buy cost $320,000, putting the Mesa businessman’s total advertising budget at around $3.1 million so far.
Meanwhile, Flake hit Cardon over allegations that businesses he co-owned employed illegal immigrants. The six-term Mesa congressman has spent more than $1.3 million on air time through late August, according to a source who is tracking media buys in the budget-busting GOP primary.
Cardon, who has gained significant ground on Flake but still trails by double digits in the most recent polls, hit his opponent hard.
In one ad, Cardon touted his business background while attacking Flake for a carbon tax proposal he co-sponsored in 2009 and for past support for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. He followed his criticism of Flake’s illegal immigration record, a consistent theme as he’s sought to outflank the congressman from the right, for his past support for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, and for his opposition to SB1070, Arizona’s first-in-the-nation illegal immigration law.
Cardon also criticized Flake for breaking his pledge to only serve three terms if elected to Congress with an ad that included footage of a smiling Flake laughing and telling an interviewed, “I lied,” when asked about the term limits pledge. The footage was also included in two 15-second ads that hit Flake on illegal immigration.
“On illegal immigration and term limits, Jeff Flake is just not honest,” one of the ads says.
Flake made quick use of a story published by The Arizona Republic on Saturday which revealed that a company partially owned by Cardon that owned a handful of Subway restaurants was fined by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for failing to document the legal status of more than 150 employees who were believed by the agency to be illegal immigrants.
“Wil Cardon talks tough about illegal immigration. But federal agents say nearly two-thirds of Wil Cardon’s sandwich shop employees were illegal aliens,” the ad said.
Cardon’s campaign said he only owned a minority share of RCC Partners, and had no oversight on hiring and firing, and had no involvement in the company’s day-to-day operations.
The campaign sent out a press release accusing Flake of running a “false attack ad.”
“In an effort to distract voters from his hapless record – and his relentless support of amnesty for illegal immigrants – Flake falsely depicts Wil Cardon as supportive of hiring illegal immigrants,” the Cardon campaign said. “In a business career spanning 20 years, Wil has never hired an illegal immigrant, nor has he ever condoned such a practice. That stands in stark opposition to Congressman Flake, who has long supported ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ and who opposed Senate Bill 1070.”