(Updated below with Jeff Flake's response to the TV ad and Carmona's response to Sen. McCain's comments.)
Carmona and Flake are vying to replace longtime Sen. Jon Kyl in the U.S. Senate.
Highlighting Carmona’s background of being a combat-decorated Special Forces veteran and Pima County Deputy Sheriff, the ad says Carmona is the best candidate for veterans.
“In the Senate, he will support our veterans because he’s lived it,” the narrator said. “But career politician Jeff Flake is part of the problem.”
The ad points to Flake’s votes made by Flake in the U.S. House from 2003-2005 to cut veterans’ benefits, health care and job training, and against a combat bonus for troops.
“Congressman Jeff Flake helps himself,” the narrator says. “Not us.”
Flake’s spokesman sent out a statement saying that Carmona is cherry-picking a few votes and ignoring scores of veterans bills that Jeff Flake has supported. Flake has a strong record of standing up for veterans and it will continue in the U.S. Senate, said spokesman Andrew Wilder. Wilder sent a list of more than 75 bills Flake has voted for during his time in Congress that support veterans.
“Any challenger can pick a vote, because you rarely vote on a single subject bill, and can misconstrue votes like he’s doing right now,” Flake said today in a phone interview. “It’s a typical liberal tactic — to point to a single vote and say, ‘Ah, this can explain the Representative’s record.’ You have to look more broadly.”
Flake’s response to being labeled a ‘career politician’ is the same as when his primary opponent, Wil Cardon, leveled the charge. He points to being named twice by Washingtonian Magazine as the No. 1 enemy of lobbyists in Congress.
“The notion that I’ve somehow gone Washington by anybody who is familiar with my record; that’s a bit of a laugher,” Flake said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a decorated Navy vet before he retired and ran for office, came to Flake’s defense, too, calling out Carmona for a ‘false and negative’ attack on Flake. McCain, who has formally endorsed Flake, said that he’s seen first hand Flake’s commitment to veterans issues over his 12 years in Congress.
“I look forward to working with him in the U.S. Senate to further advocate for the men and women who have served our nation,” McCain said in a statement.
Carmona sent out a statement in response to McCain's, saying that he's always respected Sen. McCain but that he stands behind the accuracy of the charge leveled in the TV ad.
"I understand that Senator McCain wants to support a member of his party, but his statement is a reflection only of his partisan politics and not the fact," Carmona said. "Both Senator McCain and Congressman Flake know this ad is accurate -- and my campaign posted the source documents to this ad to back it up. Congressman Flake is trying to run away from his record, but the 12-year Congressman is going to find that facts are a tough thing to hide from."
Stay tuned to the Pueblo Politics blog throughout 2012 for news, updates and information about Arizona politics. You can follow Arizona Daily Star reporters Brady McCombs, Becky Pallack and Tim Steller on Twitter.