Saying she's the better candidate, former Republican Attorney General Grant Woods on Thursday threw his support behind Democrat Felecia Rotellini who wants the job he once held.
Woods said the decision was not meant as a slap at Republican Tom Horne. Instead, he said that 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 he did not support SB 1070. And he said that 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, though she said that was because she thought it did not do enough to actually 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.
In a report due Thursday, Horne reported collecting $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 as of 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,'' Woods continued. "She took some very difficult, some very important cases on the civil side as well as on the criminal side.''
Horne had similar criticism for state Sen. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale, who also endorsed Rotellini and voted against SB 1070.
"The public is fed up with the federal government,'' Horne said, both 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.''
Horne also released a poll conducted by Moore Information, which showed him with 45-37 percentage point lead over Rotellini. But that survey was conducted before a very divisive televised debate between the two.
Horne said his campaign did not pay for the poll, which has a 4.5 percentage point margin of error, but he said he was not free to disclose who did.