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Arizona Lawmaker to Serve in Iraq

July 31, 2006

PHOENIX (AP) _ An Arizona lawmaker assigned to a tour of duty in Iraq will be serving as an Army Reserves intelligence officer during his re-election campaign back home.

Republican Rep. Jonathan Paton, a freshman legislator, said he learned Saturday that he was going to Iraq to work in military intelligence for five to six months.

He will also miss the primary and general elections, and likely would be absent for the a few weeks of the 2007 legislative session.

The 35-year-old Tucson native said he volunteered for the duty last year because he needed to back up his support of the war with action. ``You should kind of put your money where your mouth is,″ he said.

The first lieutenant said he also was inspired by a fellow officer from Arizona who returned home from Iraq to care for her husband after he was wounded by an improvised explosive device. He said he was moved by the drive of the young couple to eventually return to duty.

Paton said his campaign is in solid shape and that his colleagues have offered to carry some campaign duties in his absence.

Paton represents parts of three border counties and proposed an immigrant smuggling law that the Legislature passed last year. The law has been used in one county to prosecute migrants on conspiracy charges for hiring smugglers to bring them across the border.

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