A poll commissioned by the Conservatives for Congress Committee shows Jesse Kelly with a strong lead in the Republican primary race in Congressional District 8.
Kelly came out ahead with 36 percent of the vote, Jonathan Paton received 17 percent and Brian Miller had 5 percent. Nearly a third, or 32 percent, of the 300 likely Republican primary voters surveyed said they still haven’t decided who to vote for.
Paton said he has a hard time believing the results and doesn’t think they are accurate.
“All I know is that the majority of people that run that campaign are donors to Jesse Kelly, so draw your own conclusions from that,” Paton said.
The findings also run counter to state and national Democratic campaign organization activity. Those groups are pumping money into defeating Paton, who is seen as a more difficult opponent for Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords than the other Republicans in the primary.
Miller’s campaign said “This was very clearly a push poll,” because some of the committee members are Kelly donors.
It’s true some of the committee members listed on the committee’s website have donated to Kelly’s campaign, including Susan Christy, Jeffrey Gerwin and Christopher Gleason.
National Research Inc. conducted the poll last week. The company is a conservative polling agency which has done work for the National Republican Congressional Committee, several states’ Republican committees, plus Arizona’s state Rep. Jim Weiers and former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe.
The poll results show “voters are rejecting big-spending career politicians like Gabrielle Giffords and Jonathan Paton,” Kelly said.
The number of undecided voters shows people are doing their research on the candidates, he said.
“It’s just an indication that across this nation and across this district voters are flat rejecting big-spending politicians. This is the year for conservatives,” Kelly said.
Miller’s campaign also downplayed the results.
“Until there is wider polling data available, we find very little credence in the results they are displaying,” said Sam Stone, Miller’s campaign manager.
Steve Christy, chairman of the Conservatives for Congress Committee, said the committee explicitly does not endorse any of the primary candidates and is focused on unseating the incumbent. It is “bogus” to try to connect the results to financial contributions from some members, Christy said.
“That’s grasping at straws and desperate because the polling was done by a very well established research company out of New Jersey. They don’t know anything about any of us,” Christy said.