Updated 5 p.m. | The National Republican Congressional Committee upped its ante behind a new ad it is airing in the special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D).
It is a negative ad hitting the Democratic nominee, former Giffords staffer Ron Barber, on health care.
The attacks come right out of a playbook that worked well for Republicans in 2010. It includes juxtaposed images of the candidate with President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), use of the word "Obamacare" and attempts to tie the candidate to Medicare cuts included in the health care reform bill.
The group's counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, went up with a $150,000 ad buy of its own last week. Much like the NRCC, the Democrats ignore their own candidate and criticize the GOP nominee, veteran Jesse Kelly, on nationalized issues: Social Security, Medicare and lower taxes for the wealthy.
The involvement of the committees underlines the stakes of the race. While the emotion revolving around Giffords and the 2011 Safeway shootings is impossible to ignore, so far both parties are treating this race on the policy issues that have surfaced in other recent races.
Roll Call Politics rates this race as Tossup.