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Democrat stands out from fellow candidates with now-removed elephant pinata shooting

If you’re running to represent a congressional district in central Washington, KIRO Radio’s Tom & Curley Show has some advice: Be a Republican.

Of course if you can’t be a Republican, you can shoot a gun like one, according to John Curley. But doing just that got one candidate in some hot water, and he’s removed his ad, in which he took a shotgun to an elephant pinata.

The Tri-City Herald reported that the advertisement for Estakio Beltran generated a lot of criticism after it was posted last week, including from a group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who survived a gunshot wound to the head in 2011.

“Mr. Beltran’s ad showing him shooting a stuffed elephant – the longtime symbol of the Republican Party – is irresponsible and offensive,” said the statement from Americans for Responsible Solutions. “This kind of misguided imagery and rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum just furthers the lack of balance in our nation’s debate about guns.”

Beltran’s campaign removed the video from YouTube on Saturday, but at least one other YouTube channel had already uploaded the video, so it lives on.

“The purpose of the video was to call attention to a do-nothing Congress in need of a kick in the butt,” campaign spokesman Grady O’Brien said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. “Now it’s time to move forward and focus on the issues that are important to the people of this district: jobs through innovation, education, and accountability in Washington, D.C. Estakio’s message of bringing a fearless new energy to Congress remains the same.”

Beltran, 30, is one of a dozen candidates running to replace retiring Republican Rep. Doc Hastings in the 4th District, which covers much of central Washington. The primary will be held Aug. 5, with the top two vote-getters advancing. The district hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1992.

Tom & John agree that the ad, even though it was pulled down, probably generated enough attention to make Beltran stand out from the crowd of Democratic candidates. And it might not be a bad thing either, says Tom. “He’s good with guns and he has a sense of humor.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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