by Jim Nintzel
Are deep pockets in the GOP establishment responding to the call to help Jonathan Paton in his GOP primary against Jesse Kelly in Congressional District 8?
Despite having more experience in the political ring as a state lawmaker from District 30 and more money to spend on his campaign, Paton remains in a fight for his political life with Kelly, a political rookie who has captured the mantle of the conservative outsider in the race.
Paton, who was said to be trailing in polls when early voting started more than two weeks ago, now has enough money to fight back with a TV ad that hammers Kelly’s family business, Don Kelly Construction, for receiving public contracts worth tens of millions of dollars that are partially funded by federal earmarks and stimulus funds.
The Tucson Weekly first wrote about Don Kelly Construction’s pursuit of public contracting jobs back in February. (You can read all about it here.) We detailed how Don Kelly Construction, which is owned by Jesse Kelly’s father, Don Kelly—has received public works contracts worth well into the tens of millions of dollars. Many of the projects were partly funded through earmarks and stimulus funds.
Our crack tech team is working on downloading our copy of Paton’s TV ad from our TiVo to our Wii so we can transfer it wirelessly to our iPad, where we’ll convert it into a Quicktime movie and upload to YouTube. But until we get that done, you’ll just have settle for this summary:
The ad shows Kelly next to President Barack Obama while words appear underneath: “Politicians will say anything.”
A narrator intones: “Politicians will say anything. Like Jesse Kelly.”
The focus shifts to Kelly confidently assuring the audience: “We’re going to stop this out-of-control spending.”
“But,” the narrator tells us, “Kelly took stimulus money for his own company. Made millions.”
And then guess who turns up? Tucson Weekly, with a nice logo shot and
a highlighted excerpt proclaiming: “Jesse Kelly took MILLIONS of ‘earmarks and stimulus funds.’”
“Kelly lined his pockets with our tax money. Enough of the old politics.”
The ad transitions to a flashy look at the new politics: Jonathan Paton in uniform, in a suit standing in front of a flag and in a casual polo, high-fiving a smiling supporter. Other images include a Border Patrol truck and rattling Capitol Hill.
“Iraq War veteran. Leader in the fight to secure our border. Championed SB1070. He’ll shake up Washington. Honesty. Integrity. Jonathan Paton for Congress.”
Fade to black.
Kelly dropped us an email calling the ad “the last, desperate act of a career politician trying to distract the voters from Paton’s record of taking Arizona to the edge of financial ruin. Jonathan is falsely attacking Jesse’s private sector business experience because Paton doesn’t have any, except as a paid lobbyist."
Our take: Don Kelly Construction has bid on numerous projects around the country that are funded through earmarks and stimulus dollars. They include huge, interstate projects such as the that $462 million Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, which is expected to get 80 percent of its funding from the federal government.
We're all for Don Kelly Construction competing with other private firms to land land the contract and provide job for its workers. We need to start fixing a lot of aging infrastructure in this country. Investing in public works is the right way to spend stimulus money.
That puts us fundamentally at odds with Jesse Kelly (and, for that matter, Jonathan Paton), who both argue that earmarks are wasteful pork and the stimulus has been a disastrous failure that has failed to help the economy.
As Jesse Kelly bluntly puts it: “"Government is not a job-creator. It is a job-crusher."
We’d say that Jesse’s current job at Don Kelly Construction shows he’s wrong about that.