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Paton poll shows dead heat with Giffords, but fundraising lags

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Paton poll shows dead heat with Giffords, but fundraising lags

CD8 race a statistical tie, but money race is far from tight

Republican Jonathan Paton and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords are in a statistical dead heat in the race for the CD8 congressional seat, a poll by Paton's campaign says.

But new fundraising numbers show Paton fighting an uphill battle to raise money.

Paton, who still must win a contested primary, says he has a 1 percent lead over the Southern Arizona Democrat in telephone poll conducted last week, according to a news release from his campaign.

Paton's campaign says he raised about $165,000 in the second quarter, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

After raising $600,000 in the second quarter, Giffords has $2.2 million banked for the general election, a report filed with the FEC on Wednesday shows. The incumbent does not face a primary opponent.

Paton was given the nod by 45 percent in the survey, with Giffords getting 44 percent. 11 percent were undecided.

The poll of 300 "likely" voters, conduced by the Tarrance Group and paid for by the Paton campaign, has a margin of error of 5.8 percent, putting the two in a statistical tie.

"No one has ever been this close to Giffords," Paton spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said. "Nobody has ever been ahead of her in a poll."

"It's safe to say that Gabrielle Giffords is going to need every cent she's raised and then some. Jonathan Paton presents the most credible and serious threat Gabrielle Giffords has ever faced in her career, and she knows it," Scarpinato wrote before the campaign released its fundraising numbers. "That's why her campaign is running scared, why the state and national Democrats are aggressively focused on Paton and why Giffords is shaking the D.C. money tree for every cent she can get."

The release from Paton said when the poll is narrowed to potential voters who "know both" candidates, his lead jumps to 51 percent over Giffords’ 41 percent.

47 percent of those surveyed have a favorable impression of Giffords, while 45 percent have an unfavorable impression, the release said. Paton did not release favorable/unfavorable numbers for himself.

"Elections are about choices," Giffords' campaign spokeswoman Anne Hilby said of the poll. "If lobbyist Jonathan Paton is able to convince Republicans to nominate him, then voters will have a choice between a corporate lobbyist for the payday loan industry and an independent leader who has focused every day on securing the border, military families in need and creating jobs in Southern Arizona."

Giffords beat Republican Randy Graf by 12 points in the 2006 election, and she defeated Tim Bee by 14 percent in 2008.

Before Paton starts an election night tally in November's election, he must first beat Jesse Kelly, Brian Miller and Jay Quick in the Republican primary in August.

Scarpinato said that Paton has "not done any primary polling for months. We're confident we're going to win."

Funds breakdown

Paton raised $167,000 in the three months ending June 30. His primary opponent Jesse Kelly raised $122,000.

Paton had $286,000 in his campaign coffers, after spending $284,000. Kelly had $162,000 after operating expenses of $166,000.

Giffords spent $333,000 on her campaign in the second quarter, and had $2.2 million remaining.

Republican Brian Miller reported raising $26,000 in a news release. His FEC filing Thursday had him raising $2400, with expenses of $82,000. Miller will amend his filing Friday, said campaign spokeswoman Molly Thrasher.

"I am just barely trailing the establishment's candidate, even though I have been out-fundraised about 10-to-1," Miller said in his release.

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