05/01/2012 01:08 pm ET Updated May 01, 2012

Arizona And New Jersey Special Congressional Elections Heat Up

The races to fill open seats in Congress in Arizona and New Jersey have heated up, with a national Democratic group releasing an ad in Grand Canyon State and Garden State Democrats rushing to take sides in the race to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Donald Payne.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released a new ad in the Arizona race to succeed Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (who resigned to focus on her recovery from a 2011 shooting). The ad ties Republican nominee Jesse Kelly to potential cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

The DCCC commercial, which can be seen below, follows the national Democratic playbook on Medicare and Social Security. It cites quotes by Kelly from December 2009 and July 2010 during his unsuccessful race to unseat Giffords, including ones indicating a desire to eliminate Social Security and Medicare while cutting taxes in half for millionaires.

On Kelly's website for the current campaign, he says, however, that he supports "preserving, protecting and strengthening" Social Security and Medicare.

In the June 12 race to fill the remainder of Giffords' term, Kelly is running against Democrat Ron Barber, a former Giffords aide who also was injured in the January 2011 shooting incident.

Both Democrats and Republicans are already planning for August primaries in advance of a November election to fill a seat for a two-year term beginning in 2013 in a newly drawn district, Arizona's 2nd Congressional District. For the August Republican primary, Kelly will again face state Sen. Frank Antenori, businessman Dave Sitton and Gulf War veteran Martha McSally, whom he defeated in an April primary for the special election.

On the Democratic side, Barber will compete against state Rep. Matt Heinz in the August primary. Barber won the special election primary uncontested, after Heinz and other Democrats conceded the special election's nomination to him. After Barber entered the race for the full-term position, several Democratic candidates dropped out, but Heinz remained.

In New Jersey, two of the four Democratic candidates vying to succeed Payne in the 10th Congressional District announced endorsements on Monday.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's group, Democracy for America, is backing Newark Councilman Ron Rice in the race, according to PolitickerNJ.

Newark City Council President Don Payne, the late congressman's son, has been endorsed by Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop (D), the Jersey City Independent reported. (For his part, Payne is supporting Fulop in the 2013 Jersey City mayoral race.)

Meanwhile, a third congressional candidate, state Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair), has been backed by the Hudson County Democratic Organization and state Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City).

Gill's campaign manager, Pat Polistano, told PolitickerNJ that he believed that the Fulop-Payne alliance was a way to hinder the campaigns of two African-American women: Gill and Cunningham, a potential Jersey City mayoral candidate. "This is an astonishingly sleazy quid pro quo between Essex County and Downtown Jersey City to try to stop African American women from having a voice," Polistano told PolitickerNJ.

The other three candidates that Gill faces in the congressional race are African-American men. Fulop is white.