CARSON CITY -- Republican congressional candidate Mark Amodei's campaign is accusing Democratic opponent Kate Marshall of attacking his mother.
Marshall's new ad, which began airing on Reno television stations Tuesday, uses footage from a previous Amodei ad showing his 79-year-old mother, Joy, while a narrator states: "Only a mother could defend what lobbyist-politician Mark Amodei has done: supporting an end to Medicare to give tax breaks to millionaires."
Amodei used his mother in two previous ads in which she accused Marshall of lying by saying her son wants to end Medicare.
Amodei spokesman Peter DeMarco said Marshall's ad goes too far in attacking Amodei's mother.
"Really, Kate Marshall. Are you that desperate, is your campaign that pathetic that you're resorting to attacking Mark's mom in your ad?" he asked.
Marshall's vow to protect Medicare now and in the future has become a central theme in her campaign to defeat Amodei. Both sides have repeatedly broadcast ads with the Medicare theme.
A special election is being held to fill the vacancy that occurred in May when then-Rep. Dean Heller was appointed to replace disgraced John Ensign in the U.S. Senate. About 15 months remains on Heller's two-year term representing the 2nd Congressional District. Election Day is Sept. 13. Early voting started Saturday.
Two other candidates are in the race: Timothy Fasano of the Independent American Party and independent Helmuth Lehmann.
Republicans hold a 30,000-registered voter advantage in the district, which covers all of Nevada except the urban core of Clark County. A Democrat hasn't won the seat since it was created in 1982.
The Democrats' strategy of attacking Republicans on Medicare has helped their party win two other congressional seats earlier this year. On May 24, Kathy Hochi won a congressional seat in New York long held by Republicans. Then on July 12, Janice Hahn retained a Democrat seat in California when Medicare also was a central campaign issue.
James Hallinan, Marshall's spokesman, said the new ad does not attack Amodei's mother.
"Mr. Amodei is the one who inserted his mother in this race," he said. "Using mom in ads doesn't allow you to trick voters in Nevada. We aren't going after his mom but his positions."
They are trying to emphasize comments made by Amodei last spring about a federal budget-cutting plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in which the congressman called for cuts to Medicare.
Amodei called Ryan's plan "excellent" but since has said he made the comment when the Ryan plan was the only federal spending plan under consideration. He has said during the campaign that he does not favor any cuts to Medicare or Social Security to current recipients or anyone within 10 years of retirement.
He also has said that Congress must consider changing the programs in the future to ensure their solvency by adding a means tests or increasing the age when people are eligible.