PHOENIX — Candidates in Arizona's close U.S. Senate race put the finishing touches on their campaigns Monday as GOP congressman Jeff Flake crisscrossed the state and as former surgeon general Richard Carmona ramped up get-out-the-vote efforts in his attempt to become the state's first Hispanic U.S. senator.
Democrats, meanwhile, complained that automated calls made this past weekend by the Flake campaign gave some Democratic voters erroneous information on the location of their polling places. The Flake campaign attributed the incorrect locations to outdated information in a database.
Flake of Mesa was a heavy favorite earlier in the campaign. But the contest to fill retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl's post has become more competitive in recent weeks, due in part to outside groups spending about $15 million on the race during October. Flake and Carmona agree that the race is close.
Flake, who campaigned Monday in Tucson, Kingman and Snowflake, was planning a rally Monday night with Sen. John McCain at Prescott's courthouse square, where Barry Goldwater launched his Senate campaigns and his failed 1964 presidential bid.
Carmona focused on voter outreach efforts from his downtown Phoenix campaign office and was scheduled to attend a late-afternoon rally in Mesa held by a group that supports providing a path to legal status for many young illegal immigrants. He planned to finish the day by working his campaign's phone bank.
The Arizona Democratic Party said it has complained to federal authorities about the Flake campaign's weekend robocalls, which were first reported by KPNX-TV.
Flake officials didn't return several calls seeking comment Monday. But the campaign said in a statement that it made more than 120,000 robocalls to Republicans on Saturday to encourage them to vote and to tell them where their polling place is located.
The campaign also attributed the calls to outdated information in a database, such as listings for Democrats who have the same number as a Republican, or erroneous information on voters who had moved but hadn't updated their voter information.
Carmona said he didn't know whether the robocalls were intended to deceive voters or whether they were due to carelessness. Still, he questioned why a GOP candidate would be calling Democratic voters so late in the game.
"That just doesn't make sense to me," he said.
Bill Solomon, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said a complaint about the automated calls was made to federal prosecutors and forwarded to another agency, which the spokesman declined to name. Solomon said no decision has been made on whether the complaint will be investigated.
The race marks the most formidable fight that Democrats in Arizona have mounted in more than a decade in trying to win a U.S. Senate seat. Carmona said the contest is more spirited and competitive because voters are frustrated with the hyper-partisanship of some Republican officials over issues such as immigration.
Carmona said he has support from Republicans who are fed up with extremism in their own party.
"They (people) just want reasonable people to solve their problems," he said.