PHOENIX -- The deadline to file the signatures to run for office in Arizona has passed, setting the stage for the August political primaries.
Valley political analyst Stan Barnes said the August primary for governor is a dream for politicos. There are seven Republicans in the mix: Arizona Sen. Al Melvin of Tucson, State Treasurer Doug Ducey, former Congressman Frank Riggs, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Go Daddy executive Christine Jones and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
"The top tier appears to be Smith, Bennett, Ducey and Jones. The others have challenges and could fade in the next few weeks," Barnes said.
Former Bill Clinton staffer and Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred Duval is the only candidate in the Democratic primary for governor.
Barnes is looking forward to wide-open congressional races and said the Republican Party will pump big money into the state to capture those seats.
"The Barber, Kirkpatrick and Simema districts are all held by Democrats and all are vulnerable. I give Sinema a slight edge to keep her seat in District 9 because of funding and name recognition.
"In District 2 Ron Barber is really in trouble and insiders believe that Republican Martha McSally will beat him in November and Ann Kirkpatrick only wins District 1 if there's a high voter turnout in her district and that's not expected to happen."
Barnes predicted a nasty campaign season.
"There's going to be bare-knuckle advertisements, it will be very difficult for some of these candidates to face accusations, old skeletons and smear tactics," he said.
"... You can allege almost anything and deny it later. It's not the golden age for politics and you have to have an incredibly thick skin and strong desire to be in the game."