Republican Jon Kyl and Democrat Jim Pederson are making a final dash in their high-stakes U.S. Senate race, a contest that both men believe is winnable.
In the last few days before Tuesday’s election, they are spending more than $500,000 apiece to purchase air time, creating the deepest glut of political television advertising in state history.
As if that’s not enough, the Washington-based Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has purchased $1.1 million worth of airtime during the final five days of the race to support Pederson.
“We think that Jim Pederson is going to be an excellent senator and we want to do what we can to help push him over the finish line,” said DSCC spokesman Phil Singer.
In addition, the American Medical Association and the Right to Work Committee have purchased smaller blocks of time for TV spots that benefit Kyl.
Major themes for Pederson’s commercials during the home stretch are the need to reassess the country’s role in the war in Iraq and the need to vanquish Republicans from the nation’s capital.
Kyl’s final message reinforces his experience on national security matters and his position to strengthen enforcement along the border with Mexico.
Pederson and Kyl also are blazing across the state seeking hands to shake.
The brightest blue star in the political universe, former President Bill Clinton, appeared with Pederson at rallies in Tempe and Tucson on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Kyl appeared at a press conference in Phoenix alongside a selection of Republican and Democratic elected officials and law-enforcement agents who pledged their support.
“Republican, Democrat, it doesn’t matter,” said Ron Green, Democratic mayor of Safford, during Kyl’s event.
“Jon Kyl’s long list of accomplishments for Arizona isn’t a partisan deal. He has always listened and worked closely with us, the local leaders of Arizona,” he said.
Both sides also claimed Thursday each is already winning the race.
Both released memos from their respective survey firms that indidated they are leading among ballots already cast.
The decisions to release the surveys were somewhat usual, because campaign strategists usually closely guard the results of their surveys for strategic reasons.
In some cases though, releasing the numbers could be viewed as a strategic advantage because favorable results indicate momentum.
The DSCC memo indicates 30 percent of the state’s electorate already has voted.
Pederson has bagged 44 percent of the vote, while Kyl has 40 percent and other unnamed candidates had 4 percent, according to a sampling of 594 early voters. The remaining voters contacted by the firm refused to comment, according to the memo by pollsters Paul Harstad and Chris Keating.
“Our latest tracking poll shows that Jim Pederson’s margin among early voters is growing as we get closer to the election,” they wrote.
Hours later, Kyl’s campaign released a memo from pollster Margaret Kenski of the Tucson firm Arizona Opinion in which she stated she was surprised by Harstad’s findings.
“Since early October, we have polled 4,020 Arizona voters about the Senate race between Jon Kyl and Jim Pederson. Among the 1,933 who indicated they would vote early or had already done so, Sen. Jon Kyl had a substantial lead,” she wrote in the memo.
Her findings indicated Kyl leads with 46.9 percent of the mail-in ballots, Pederson trails with 38.3 percent and Libertarian Richard Mack follows with 2.8 percent.