The campaign arms of both House Democrats and House Republicans went on the air in the special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), launching contrasting narratives about whose candidate poses the biggest threat to entitlement programs for senior citizens.

The spending spree started on Thursday, when the National Republican Congressional Committee announced it would spend $150,000 on the race, prompting a game of one-upmanship with the Democrats. Hours later, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it would spend the same amount to shore up Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberKavanaugh nomination a make or break moment to repeal Citizens United Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Principles and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words MORE, the Democratic nominee and a former Giffords aide.

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Republicans doubled down on Monday, increasing their ad buy to $300,000 as the first ads started hitting airwaves in southern Arizona.

The NRCC ad starts with a clip of Barber’s own ad, in which he talks about rebuilding the middle class.

“That sounds nice,” says the narrator in the NRCC ad. “But Ron Barber supported the same failing agenda that has hurt Arizona.”

The ad accuses Barber, who served as Giffords’s district director, of supporting President Obama’s healthcare reform law and a $500 billion cut to Medicare.

“We can’t sent President Obama and Nancy Pelosi a rubber stamp,” says the ad, while photographs of Barber, Obama and the House Democratic leader from California are shown in the same frame.

The ad doesn’t mention the Republican nominee, Jesse Kelly, who will face Barber in a June special election to fill the remainder of Giffords’s term. A separate, regular election will take place in fall for the full term that starts in 2013.

The DCCC ad also hits on Medicare, creating a confusing situation for Arizona voters who are now being told by both parties that their opponent wants to hurt the safety-net programs important to seniors.

"Was Jesse Kelly listening to you when he said on Social Security, 'I'd love to eliminate the program,'" the narrator says. "Jesse Kelly said he'd work to eliminate Medicare over time."

Voters are also reminded that Kelly said he wanted to cut taxes in half for millionaires.

Barber has also been on the air with his own ads, but Kelly's campaign has yet to release its first ad.

The Hill rates this race a toss-up.

Watch the DCCC ad:


Watch the NRCC ad:


— This story was updated at 1:57 p.m.