It's no secret that California's 10th Congressional District candidates Jeff Denham and Michael Eggman have history. In 2014, the two Turlock farmers went head-to-head in an election for the U.S. House of Representatives, with incumbent Republican Denham defeating Democrat challenger Eggman by over 15,000 votes. Both candidates are gearing up for round two in the general election on Nov. 8, and Eggman has taken aim at Denham through recently-released attack ads.
Last week, the Michael Eggman for Congress campaign released its first television ads, in both Spanish and English, linking Denham to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
"We want to make it clear to voters that millionaire Congressman Jeff Denham is fighting for Trump, not the Valley," said Eggman's campaign manager Josh Lord in a statement. "Michael Eggman would stand up to Trump and his reckless agenda and fight for Valley families."
The two ads, titled "Bragged" and "Attacks," highlight Trump speaking in Fresno, where he said that there is no drought in California, as well as his comments about women and immigrants. "Bragged" also focuses on how Denham helped Trump get local and federal approval to build a new hotel just blocks from the White House.
"To build his new, luxury hotel, Donald Trump got millions of your tax dollars," says the commercial. "And Congressman Jeff Denham helped him get it."
The statement is followed by a picture of Denham and Trump, smiling and standing side by side.
A similar ad was released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, focusing also on the prior business relationship between Denham and Trump. The ad asks, "Who is Donald Trump's man in Washington?" and takes a look at the pair unveiling the hotel's plans together.
The attack ads on Denham, from both Eggman and DCCC, come just ahead of the general election later this month.
In response to the ads, Jeff Denham for Congress released a statement, saying the hotel was an effort to "save taxpayers money by disposing of unused or little utilized federal property. The attacked focused on the long vacant Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., which the Obama administration leased to a partnership of Trump's company and a California company. It was opened this week as a new hotel."
"Why Nancy Pelosi and Michael Eggman would attack a member of Congress for working to save taxpayer money is one question. An even bigger question is why they would launch such an attack on President Obama's administration, which negotiated and approved the deal," said Denham's campaign consultant Dave Gilliard. "Thanks to Congressman Denham's leadership, taxpayers are finally being relieved of having to pay for excess federal government property that is not being used or is under-utilized."
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C. also put out a hit piece on Denham as a "millionaire who supports Trump for President." Another piece suggests that Denham increased his wealth by up to $28 million in his five years in Washington.
"I think it's disappointing that Michael Eggman is basically attacking my wife for working and running the family business - a business which she and I started together," said Denham. "Our lives haven't changed. I still live in a 2,000-square-foot home in Turlock and a 950-square-foot condo in Washington D.C. when I'm back there. My wife travels back and forth to Turlock with me and both my kids are off in college. It's a desperate attack. My opponent doesn't want to debate, doesn't want to talk about the issues and instead wants to attack me for being successful and creating jobs. That's what we want to do here in the Valley - create jobs."
Denham also released a video on social media and a television ad titled "Jeff Denham: He's On Our Side" that claims Eggman supports the Iran nuclear deal, which the ad states" gives as much as $150 billion in sanction relief to Iran, the world's largest state-sponsor of terrorism." The ad goes on to tout Denham's military service and his support for a "stronger military" to protect the country.
Jeff Benziger contributed to this report.