Rep. Dave Schweikert ignited a controversy when his campaign sent out a mailer saying that opponent, Rep. Ben Quayle, “goes both ways.”
The back of the mailer clarifies “…on important conservative issues,” but Schweikert drew fire for the sexual implications of the statement, which seems to suggest that Quayle is a bisexual.
The mailer, according to a copy posted by ABC15 in Arizona, cites conflicting positions that Quayle has taken on taxes, immigration and gay marriage.
“Ben Quayle: he’ll go both ways, tell you what you want to hear like he always has,” the text says.
“The mailer is utterly false regarding Congressman Quayle but accurately demonstrates the two sides of Dave Schweikert: the usual dishonesty and lies combined with a sleazy smear tactic,” Quayle spokeswoman Anna Haberlein told the Arizona Republic.
A statement from Quayle supporter Sen. Jon Kyl called the mailer “an example of the worst in American politics,” and saying “it ought to be condemned by all Republicans.”
“It not only misrepresents Ben Quayle’s positions on important issues, it includes what can only be described as the strangest of allusions to sexuality that have no place in a political debate,” Kyl said.
The Schweikert campaign’s response was that people interpreting it that way “should get their minds out of the gutter,” Chris Baker, a spokesman for the Schweikert campaign, told the Republic.
The significance of the mailer was obvious, Baker added: “‘Both ways’ — as in liberal and conservative.”
The incumbent versus incumbent race is shaping up to be an interesting one. Both are first-term congressmen, forced to run against each other as a result of redistricting. No independent polling has been conducted in the race, but an internal poll released by Schweikert campaign in July purportedly found him up 16 points over the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle. Roll Call reported Tuesday that Schweikert was “pulling away” in the race, based on extensive interviews with sources familiar with the race.
The Quayle campaign called foul on the Schweikert poll results, saying that any claims to such a lead were entirely false.
“Everyone watching this race needs to understand that Dave Schweikert and his supporters lie for convenience, they lie for advantage, and they lie as a habit,” Quayle campaign spokesman Jay Heiler told the Phoenix New Times. “It’s unfortunate, but the problem has manifested itself throughout this campaign and it’s been done again here. Dave Schweikert is trailing in this race, and the more pressure his campaign is under, the more they will continue to lie.”
Quayle Spokesperson Anna Haberlein told The Daily Caller that their own internal polling showed the race “basically tied, with Quayle leading within the margin of error.”
The Quayle campaign has dubbed Schweikert “Dishonest Dave,” launching a website of the same name on Wednesday.
The race has attracted outside attention. After House Majority Leader Eric Cantor got involved in a primary between Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Don Manzullo, supporting Kinzinger, the Club for Growth sent a letter threatening that if the house leadership were to get involved in the Arizona race on behalf of Quayle, they would be forced to step in to help Schweikert.