WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is stepping in to help a Republican preferred by the establishment in a bruising three-way Arizona primary in one of the most competitive House districts in the country.
The powerful business group is putting hundreds of thousands of dollars behind a television ad for state House Speaker Andy Tobin, filling a void for the financially strapped GOP candidate, who has been unable to spend on television advertising. Tobin’s two GOP rivals — businessman and rancher Gary Kiehne and state lawmaker Adam Kwasman — are already on the air with ads.
The primary is Tuesday but early voting began July 31.
The Chamber ad, which begins airing on Thursday on broadcast and cable, focuses on Tobin and the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, and makes no mention of the two other Republicans.
In the ad, grainy black-and-white images of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Kirkpatrick give way to color shots of Tobin and the question, “Who will work to stop an out-of-control Washington? Andy Tobin will, the rock-solid conservative we need in Washington.”
The commercial says Tobin will push back against Washington overreach, fight for a balanced budget and work for Arizona jobs.
The Associated Press reviewed the commercial in advance.
“For us, he’s the only candidate in the race who can draw a stark contrast with Kirkpatrick,” said Rob Engstrom, national political director for the Chamber.
The business organization has taken an aggressive role in Republican primaries this election cycle, spending millions of dollars to sway the outcome in crowded primaries and help the GOP nominate viable general election candidates in House and Senate races. Establishment Republicans blame tea party and right-flank candidates for costing the GOP seats in 2010 and 2012.
The Chamber also has faced opposition from some conservatives to top agenda items, such as comprehensive immigration reform.
Tobin stands as the mainstream GOP choice in the race in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. Kiehne had to apologize earlier this year for saying Democrats pulled the trigger in most of the nation’s mass shootings. Kwasman attracted national attention when he mistakenly identified YMCA campers as young refugees from Central America.
Whoever emerges from the primary will be at a financial disadvantage. But if it’s Tobin, national Republicans are expected to spend heavily.
Kirkpatrick won a House seat in 2008, lost it in the 2010 tea party wave and then prevailed by 9,180 votes in 2012. She’s sitting on $1.4 million for the general election.
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