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Updated May 21, 2014 - 5:01 pm

Matt Salmon says Tom Horne should give up re-election bid

PHOENIX -- U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon on Wednesday called Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to urge him to abandon his re-election bid because of a series of allegations that cast doubt on the Republican's ability to win the election.

Salmon told Horne he believes he is so politically damaged by the events that not only might he lose the GOP primary against challenger Mark Brnovich but that Democrat Felecia Rotellini could win the general election.

Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham confirmed the call and said he told Salmon he will not exit the race. Salmon's spokeswoman, Kristine Michalson, also confirmed the call. She said Salmon wasn't available for further comment.

Salmon's call to Horne was first reported by The Arizona Republic.

Horne is facing a renewed campaign-finance complaint from his 2010 election bid and a new election-law complaint alleging he's used his executive staff to run his campaign. He adamantly denies both allegations, but they'll likely to take months to resolve, opening Horne to political attacks that are already ongoing.

Salmon tells the Republic he told Horne that as former state Republican Party chairman he decided it was necessary to step in and tell Horne how he feels.

``I said, `Tom, it's not just one thing- it's a lot of things,' `` Salmon said he told Horne, according to the Republic. ``I'm not saying that you're guilty, that's for other venues to decide. But what I am saying is there's significant concerns that I have about your viability and being able to do the job as the current attorney general with all these accusations.''

Horne said in a statement that he's won without endorsements from `establishment'' politicians and can do it again.

``I will fight for Arizona's conservative principles and if some politicians disagree with me, or want to be influenced by a campaign-finance dispute that was judged in my favor, so be it,'' Horne said. ``I am heartened by the support of grassroots conservative Republicans, including endorsements from 12 conservative legislators.''

Wednesday's events come a week after Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk reinstated a complaint alleging that Horne and aide Kathleen Winn illegally worked together on outside ads targeting Horne's Democratic opponent before the November 2010 election. She ordered him to repay $400,000 to donors to the outside group and amend his campaign finance reports. He and Winn also could face up to $1.2 million in fines, three times the amount Polk says was improperly spent.

An administrative law judge who heard three days of testimony ruled in April that there wasn't enough evidence to uphold Polk's campaign finance violation order. Polk, however, wasn't bound by that finding. Horne said he plans to appeal to Superior Court.

Horne has until June 2 to reply to a new complaint from former staffer Sarah Beattie. She alleges in a complaint filed with the Arizona Secretary of State and citizens clean elections Commission that she was hired last year mainly to do campaign work and that many other staff in Horne's executive office also do extensive campaign work on public time.

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