Re-Election Challenge Gets Harder for Giffords

Posted January 18, 2010 at 1:39pm

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-Ariz.) path to re-election got significantly tougher with state Sen. Jonathan Paton’s (R) entry into the race Sunday.Paton, who is in his first term in the Senate after serving two terms in the state House, told the Arizona Daily Star, “I see what’s happening across the country and in my own home town, and it’s wrong. It’s as simple as that.—A U.S. Army captain, he joins three other little-known GOP candidates with military backgrounds in the race — Iraq vets Jesse Kelly, Andy Goss and Brian Miller, who served with the Marines, the Army and the Air Force, respectively.Paton is by far the most seasoned politician of the three, with a rising political profile in the state, giving the GOP a legitimate challenger to Giffords. The Tucson-area Democrat won her last two elections by double-digit margins despite the GOP registration advantage in the Southeast Arizona district. But she appears to be prepared for a tough race in 2010, reporting $1.4 million in her campaign account at the end of September.Paton plans to go after Giffords for her support of the Democratic agenda in Washington, including voting for the health care bill, cap-and-trade legislation and the stimulus package.“She’s the only one of these Blue Dog Democrats in the state who voted for all three of those things. We didn’t know how she was going to stand on these issues until we had a Democratic president. Now I think people are like, ‘Whoa. Hold on a second. That’s not what we bargained for,’“ Paton told the Daily Star.Arizona Democrats were quick to peg Paton as part of the state’s GOP leadership, which has struggled to come up with a solution to Arizona’s budget woes. “Arizonans suffered as Republican legislative leaders spent most of 2009 paralyzed by bickering and then eventually joining forces with [Republican] Gov. [Jan] Brewer to enact devastating cuts to our schools, universities and critical services,— Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director Luis Heredia said in a statement. “We are surprised that Paton, who is an entrenched part of the GOP problem at the state capitol, feels qualified to ask voters to grant him even greater responsibilities.—