By Carrie Sheffield - 12/15/05 12:00 AM EST
Democrat Jim Pederson’s campaign is looking to exploit differences between Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl on immigration as Pederson mounts an uphill battle against Kyl.
While McCain has staked out a middle-of-the-road position on illegal immigrants, co-sponsoring a bill with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Kyl has remained closer to his party’s conservative base.
With Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kyl, who is in his second term, is spearheading legislation that, unlike the McCain-Kennedy bill, stresses border enforcement and makes no room for guest workers.
Pederson, a real-estate developer and former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, supports the McCain-Kennedy bill, which grants citizenship to illegal immigrants who live in the United States for six years and pay a $2,000 fine.
“The stark policy differences between John McCain and Jon Kyl will absolutely be an issue in this campaign,” Pederson spokeswoman Selena Shilad said. “Immigration reform is a pretty typical example of Jon Kyl’s approach to tough issues. … McCain has said that Kyl’s bill ‘borders on fantasy,’ and it simply doesn’t have a broad base of support.”
Shilad declined to say how the immigration debate would figure into campaign literature or ads.
McCain spokeswoman Eileen McMenamin downplayed the differences between the senators. “We’re hoping in the end everyone can work together to find a solution to what is an increasingly important problem,” she said.
Kyl, who won his last election with 79 percent of the vote, had raised more than $4.2 million as of Sept. 30, the end of the last filing period. Pederson had garnered $732,000.
“They don’t have a record to run on,” Kyl spokesman Andy Chafin said of the Pederson campaign. “They’re devoid of ideas.”