Tuesday, September 05, 2006

GOP primary ad in Arizona sparks protest

WASHINGTON - Arizona Republicans in a crowded House primary denounced the national GOP Tuesday for taking sides in the race. "They're idiots," one candidate said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee last week backed a candidate in the primary, launching a $122,000 advertising campaign for state Rep. Steve Huffman. The party contends Huffman is a moderate candidate who could win the district in November.

On Tuesday, Huffman's four GOP opponents took the unusual step of holding a joint news conference and delivering a message to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

"Stay the hell out of southern Arizona," said Mike Hellon, one of the candidates and a former state party chairman, in an interview following the news conference.

The four contend the NRCC had split the party, handing an advantage to the Democrats. They urged the NRCC to pull its ads and stay quiet until after the Sept. 12 primary.

"This is the granddaddy of unintended consequences," Hellon said in the interview. "They're idiots."

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