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Democrat Richard Pan is seeking to make abortion an issue in the 5th Assembly District race, airing television ads attacking Republican candidate Andy Pugno on the topic.

The 30-second ad seeks to paint Pugno, the Folsom attorney who wrote and defended Proposition 8, as too extreme for the district. The ad claims Pugno opposes legalized abortion in the case of incest or rape. It also says Pugno opposes stem-cell research.

"The last thing the state Assembly needs is another politician who divides people to push an extreme agenda," one woman says in the spot.

Pugno consultant Matt Rexroad attacked the spot for using "bogus" citations to make its claims. He said the candidate, who is pro-life, has not to his knowledge publicly stated positions on those exceptions for abortion restrictions or stem cell research.

"On many of those issues, I've known Andy Pugno for 20 years and I don't know his positions on those issues," he said.

Rexroad said the Pan campaign was being "hypocritical" for framing Pugno as divisive when it's pushing abortion as an issue in the contest.

"We're talking about jobs and the economy, which we think are the issues that people care about right now," he said, adding that some volunteers have contacted the Pugno campaign as a result of the ad.

The Pan campaign responded by pointing to a fundraising appeal in which Pugno accuses them of "desperately trying to paint me as an 'extremist' simply because of my Pro-Life beliefs." That e-mail to supporters includes a link to the ad but does not refute any of its claims.

Republicans have a small registration advantage in the district, which has been held by the GOP since 1978. Assembly Democrats are targeting the seat as a potential pick up this cycle. The state Democratic Party contributed $125,000 to Pan's campaign late last month, bringing its total investment in the race to more than $145,000.

Pan and Pugno are running to replace termed-out Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks. Peace and Freedom candidate Elizabeth Martinez, an area college student, is also on the ballot.

View the ad, which began airing in the Sacramento media market last Thursday, here:

This post was updated at 3:42 p.m. with a response from the Pan campaign.


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