Assembly candidate Andy Pugno, whose strapped coffers have forced him to run a low-profile campaign, launched a radio offensive this week attacking opponent Beth Gaines as an "insider politician" who is "hiding from voters."
Pugno and Gaines, a two-year assemblywoman, are Republicans vying for the newly drawn 6th District Assembly seat, based in Placer County but stretching into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.
Pugno said his 60-second ad began running Monday on about a half-dozen radio stations.
"The message of the ad is that California's problems have been caused by insiders from both parties and real change requires replacing the insiders with new blood," the Folsom attorney said.
Pugno's campaign has been strapped for cash, and in an email Monday to donors, he asked for immediate financial help to keep his radio ad running through Election Day, Nov. 6.
"At a cost of $110 each time the ad runs, we urgently need to raise additional funds - and quickly - to keep this ad on the air," Pugno's e-mail says.
Disclosure statements showed that Pugno's campaign had $29,314 in cash and $132,205 in debts through Sept. 30.
Gaines characterized the ad's claim that she hides from voters as an unfair act of desperation by Pugno. She works hard to attend community events and listen to people throughout the 6th District, she said.
"My job is to stay connected to constituents, and I'm very proud of how connected I am," said Gaines, who easily finished first in the June primary while Pugno edged Democrat Reginald "Regy" Bronner to secure a spot in next month's runoff.
Pugno countered that his point is that Gaines does not identify herself as a sitting legislator in her ballot statement, which has been "widely recognized, particularly in this anti-incumbent environment, as a strategy for downplaying or hiding incumbency status."
The following is a transcript of Pugno's radio ad:
"California is in bad shape, thanks to insider politicians from both parties. No wonder incumbent politicians like Beth Gaines are hiding from voters. In fact, on the official ballot Beth Gaines doesn't even mention her full-time job as the incumbent.
"It's time to stop playing games. We need independent, straight-talking Andy Pugno for state Assembly.
"As a small business owner, Andy Pugno has helped hundreds of families and businesses cut their taxes and fight job-killing regulation. He successfully prosecuted taxpayer lawsuits against politicians and bureacrats for violating state laws. And when government officials refused to defend Proposition 8, Andy Pugno courageously stepped forward to defend the vote of the people in the Supreme Court.
"Think about it: Business as usual or independent leadership with Andy Pugno for Assembly. The choice is clear."
Pugno owns a small law practice and is co-author of Proposition 8, the state's ban on same-sex marriage whose fate will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gaines and Pugno have sparred in the past over her ballot designation as "small business owner," not legislator. Gaines owns 50 percent of a family insurance firm and contends she works 10 to 15 hours a week for it. Pugno filed suit over her ballot designation, but lost.
* Edited at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday to add quotes from Andy Pugno.