The League of Conservation Voters, which has been playing an increasingly significant role in the 2012 congressional election, announced Monday that it will spend at least $450,000 on television ads opposing Rep. Jeff Flakeâ€™s (R-Ariz.) Senate bid.
The ads focus on how Flake â€” who is locked in a close race with former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a Democrat, to replace retiring Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R) â€” is backing uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. In January, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar imposed a 20-year moratorium on future uranium and other hard rock mining on 1 million acres of federal land near the iconic national park.
The television ads, which note that Flake once lobbied for a Namibian uranium company, criticize an amendment he's sponsored to reverse the ban. â€śItâ€™s the most dangerous kind of Washington politics,â€ť the adâ€™s narrator intones. â€śWe canâ€™t risk Flake in the Senate.â€ť
Flake campaign spokesman Andrew Wilder wrote in an e-mail that the congressman does not back mining in the park itself, and mining already takes place not far from the Grand Canyon.
â€śBut itâ€™s no surprise that liberal, out-of-state allies of Richard Carmona would seek to distort his record," Wilder wrote. â€śThe League of Conservation Voters supports cap-and-trade, opposes building the Keystone Pipeline and is to the left of even President Obama on many issues, and so Arizonans are right to ask why they clearly see a future ally for that agenda in Richard Carmona.â€ť
Navin Nayak, LCVâ€™s senior vice president for campaigns said in an interview that the group decided to weigh in on the contest because â€śthe opportunity to win a pro-environment vote in Arizona was an opportunity weÂ couldn'tÂ pass up.â€ť
The group has already poured nearly $8 million into the election, launching major independent expenditures in the Virginia, New Mexico, Montana, Massachusetts and Connecticut Senate races, along with five House races and the presidential race.