The attack on Kelly confirmed a shift in the tone of the primary race in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
The two Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination and the chance to challenge Democrat U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Previously, Paton went primarily after Giffords.
Recently, however, his camp has also trained its guns on Kelly, and the duel between the two Republicans has intensified as the primary election approaches.
There’s a third Republican candidate in the race, Jay Quick, but he doesn’t have the resources to compete.
“Jesse Kelly has said one thing on the campaign trail and done another thing in private,” Paton said in a news release on Aug. 17. “His stated opposition to the Obama stimulus, while running a business that profits from this reckless spending, is blatant hypocrisy.”
In the statement, Paton said Kelly should “pay back the millions of dollars his company has received in stimulus and earmark dollars-taxpayer cash the Kelly company actively sought under Kelly’s management and from which Kelly has personally profited.”
The statement was accompanied by a video accusing Kelly of “(lining) his pockets with our taxpayer money.” The ad also juxtaposed clips of President Barack Obama and Kelly, saying Kelly took Obama’s stimulus money for his company.
This is the first video that Paton’s campaign released against Kelly.
The Kelly campaign dismissed the video as an attempt to distract voters from Paton’s record.
“Jonathan is desperate to distract voters from his record but people know that Paton eagerly voted for Napolitano’s big-spending budgets,” Kelly said in a statement.
A central narrative of Kelly’s campaign is that Paton is a career politician who supported Napolitano’s fiscal 2008 budget, which increased government spending.
John Ellinwood, who speaks for the Kelly campaign, said: “He has not received millions in stimulus. He is a working guy.
“President Obama’s spending is the reason Jesse Kelly got into the race,” Ellinwood said, adding that Paton’s ad tying Kelly to Obama is dishonest.
Paton is also desperate after having ignored Kelly for several months, Ellinwood said.
Kelly works as a project manager for his family’s construction business, Don Kelly Construction, which bids on sewer and flood control projects.
He recently worked on sewer expansion project for Pima County. Part of that funding for the project came from stimulus dollars.
But Kelly’s campaign has been quick to point out that just like any other company that bids on government projects his company has no control over the funding source for these projects.
– Luige del Puerto