PHOENIX -- Arizona's gubernatorial candidates are counting the days before early voting opens for the primary election.
Valley economist Elliott Pollack said in order to win the governor's race in Arizona, candidates need to focus on their plan to fix the economy.
"They have to pay attention to economic development and attention to the things that make Arizona an attractive place to have facilities," Pollack said.
Arizona has not recovered from the economic recession of 2009, according to Pollack. He said it would be a mistake for candidates to assume otherwise.
"Candidates need to realize that it is no longer an automatic that Arizona and greater Phoenix are going to do well," he said. "While we are recovering, (the) recovery has been nothing short of mediocre."
Population growth in Arizona has also staggered since the economic downturn.
"We're not in the clear," Pollack said. "We're growing at about half the rate we normally would, and we're growing at about a third of the population growth we normally would."
Additionally, Pollack said Arizona's next governor needs to stay away from controversial legislation that could potentially drive people and businesses out of the state.
"SB 1070 and SB 1062 did affect people's view of Arizona," he said, referring to two of the more controversial bills that have passed through the state's Legislature since the recession. Gov. Jan Brewer did not sign the latter into law.
Early voting for Arizona's primary election opens on July 31.