PHOENIX - Former Republican Attorney General Grant Woods on Thursday threw his support behind Democrat Felecia Rotellini for the job he once held, saying she's the better candidate.
Woods said the decision was not meant as a slap at Republican Tom Horne. Instead, he said Rotellini worked for him, and he believes she would make a good attorney general.
Horne responded by attacking both of them.
"Felecia and Grant Woods make a good couple," he said, as they both oppose SB 1070, the state's new immigration law. Horne said that distinguishes both from his campaign promise to defend the new law through its current legal battles.
Woods acknowledged that he does not support SB 1070, which he said has resulted in differences between him and both Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. John McCain, whose separate campaigns he co-chairs.
"I think it's unconstitutional," Woods said. "I thought that from Day One."
Rotellini also was against SB 1070, she said, because she thought it did not do enough to combat illegal immigration. Instead, the law - parts of which have been placed on hold by a federal judge - was designed to give state and local police more power to detain suspected illegal immigrants.
The endorsement comes as the candidates, both of whom opted not to use public funding for their campaigns, continue to collect and spend money.
Horne reported Thursday that he had collected $639,906 as of Sept. 13, including about $43,000 of his own money, for both his primary fight with Andrew Thomas and the upcoming general election. He had spent all but about $500 of that.
Rotellini had not filed her latest report at press time. But she already had spent more than $352,000 as of Aug. 9, two weeks before the three-way Democratic primary.
Woods said his decision to endorse Rotellini had nothing to do with SB 1070.
"She worked for me for six years," he said. "She was one of our star players," handling civil and criminal cases.
Horne had similar criticism for Republican state Sen. Carolyn Allen of Scottsdale, who also endorsed Rotellini and voted against SB 1070.
"The public is fed up with the federal government," Horne said, for not securing the border and then for suing Arizona to void the state's own immigration measures. "They want somebody that's going to defend SB 1070."