PHOENIX (AP) — The ads flooding Arizona airwaves paint Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia as a radical who is "liberal on illegal immigration" and wants to "abolish ICE."
The Republican Governors Association on Wednesday unveiled the fourth spot in the series, a video called "So Liberal," that says "Garcia opposes tougher border security."
Garcia, a fourth-generation Arizona Hispanic, last week characterized the earlier ads as "fear mongering intended to divide communities," telling The Associated Press that "things I have said are taken out of context, and they report things I haven't said."
Illegal immigration is a hot button issue that runs deep in Arizona, a border state that is home to a burgeoning Latino population and some of the toughest laws in the nation targeting migrants in the U.S. without permission.
So it's not surprising that the topic is the focus of millions of dollars of ads in the run up to the November gubernatorial election featuring Garcia and GOP incumbent Doug Ducey.
Jon Thompson, spokesman for the RGA, estimated the immigration-themed spots had aired thousands of times and said the group has spent nearly $10 million on TV ads in the Arizona governor's race, most of them targeting Garcia.
One ad released in early September, "Wrong," takes Garcia's comments about immigration one step further and says he "wants to abolish ICE, the law enforcement agency that deports criminal illegal aliens."
Another September ad, "Safe," features the mother of two daughters who says "Garcia wants to get rid of ICE ... which would allow more sex trafficking and more drugs into our neighborhoods."
Garcia says he has never uttered the term "abolish ICE" and that "has never been our position."
Campaign spokeswoman Sarah Elliott earlier this week sidestepped direct questions about whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement would need to be eliminated for a new agency to be created. She said Garcia "would like to see the agency replaced with a new immigration agency that protects our borders while respecting human rights and protecting families."
She noted that governors have no control over ICE, which is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.
Thompson said the group stands by its ads.
"He can try to mislead voters, now that he realizes how radical and out-of-touch that policy position is, but he cannot escape the fact that he has advocated for getting rid of ICE. He owns his words."