Supporters of Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Ducey aren't taking Democratic challenger Fred DuVal lightly.
With the primary election barely over, Ducey supporters had a DuVal hit on TV, spending more than a half-million dollars to slam DuVal -- a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents -- for college tuition hikes.
The ad from the Republican Governors Association is strong, but misleading -- tuition definitely has gone up, but DuVal's probably not the villain.
In fact, a Republican who used to be on the Board of Regents with DuVal, Anne Mariucci already has issued a statement on DuVal's behalf:
"I'm a Republican and I need to correct the record about this highly inaccurate political attack on Fred DuVal. I worked by Fred's side to save our public universities when the Arizona legislature decimated higher education during the Great Recession. They cut our public universities deeper than any state in the country, forcing tuition increases on Arizona students.
"Fred DuVal actually kept the doors of education open to students from working and middle-class families by increasing financial aid for students, developing more partnerships between community colleges and universities, and developing new campuses in rural Arizona.
"Fred and I personally developed the formula requiring the universities to reduce costs before raising tuition, and Fred was always the loudest voice in the room to protect students from unnecessary tuition hikes. To cast him in any other light is just wrong."
Of course, the beauty of political attack ads on TV is that you don't get to hear the other guy's explanation.
A source with knowledge of the TV advertising purchase says this first round cost the Republican Governors Association $640,000, with the spot airing in Phoenix and Tucson markets.
Remember, we're still more than two months away from Election Day, and this big ad buy seems to show people cheering on Ducey aren't treating DuVal as some minor obstacle.
We asked Robbie Sherwood, the executive director of Progress Now Arizona, a lefty group, if this ad buy is perhaps a sign that the challenge from DuVal will be taken very seriously.
"Absolutely. Fred DuVal is a viable candidate, and [Ducey supporters] are having to work as fast as they can to try to contain that," Sherwood tells New Times. "And part of the problem is Doug Ducey has emerged from his primary badly wounded by voices within his own party. His credibility and business record has been challenged top to bottom by his primary opponents, and as you can see by the Public Policy Polling poll that came out on election night, his negatives are extremely high."
That's the other indicator that DuVal might not be a Dem to take lightly -- that poll.
The poll showed Ducey and DuVal in a tie. The poll was done in the days leading up to the primary, and was released even before the results proved Ducey to be the Republican nominee, so the match-up was posed as a hypothetical.
And DuVal's rushed to get on TV, too. He announced on Tuesday, the day of the primary election, that his campaign was releasing its first TV ad. DuVal brought out former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, a Republican, to give him an endorsement in the TV ad.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.