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7:35 PM Sat, Dec. 15th

Former state Sen. Bennett to challenge Ducey in primary

Republican Ken Bennett, in front of the Arizona Capitol tower on April 21, 2018, will challenge Gov. Doug Ducey in the GOP gubernatorial primary Aug. 28. (Howard Fischer/Courtesy, file)

Republican Ken Bennett, in front of the Arizona Capitol tower on April 21, 2018, will challenge Gov. Doug Ducey in the GOP gubernatorial primary Aug. 28. (Howard Fischer/Courtesy, file)

PHOENIX — Incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey isn’t going to get a free ride to the November election.

Republican Ken Bennett filed enough signatures by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline to also get his name on the GOP gubernatorial ballot.

But Bennett — the former secretary of state who used to live in Prescott and served Legislative District 1 as state Senate President and city council member, among other elected positions — remains an underdog in the Aug. 28 race.

Not only is Ducey an incumbent but the governor already has more than three times as much money as Bennett can ever hope to collect: as a Clean Elections candidate, Bennett will get $839,704 in public financing if he qualifies; Ducey, running with private donations, already has collected nearly $3.4 million.

Whoever wins that fight will face off against he one of three Democrats who manages to win that party’s gubernatorial primary. Educator David Garcia, state Sen. Steve Farley and Kelly Fryer, the CEO of the YWCA of Southern Arizona, also met Wednesday’s filing deadline.

However, the General Election for governor will end up being a three-way race, as Libertarian Kevin McCormick managed to get enough signatures to be his party’s standard bearer.

FEDERAL SEATS

The other high-profile contest is the one to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake.

As anticipated, three Republicans are going to be competing for votes: current Congresswoman Martha McSally, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former state Sen. Kelly Ward.

Democrat Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is hoping to be her party’s nominee in November. But first she has to defeat Deedra Abboud, a civil rights activist and immigration attorney.

Eve Reyes-Aguirre is the lone Green Party contender to qualify for the ballot.

There’s a wide-open race to fill the congressional seat McSally is vacating, with four Republicans and four Democrats each hoping to get their party’s nod. This could be the most competitive congressional race, not only because of the open seat but because the history of CD 2 shows it is the one that either party could likely win.

A similar situation exists in CD 9, the seat currently occupied by Sinema, with two Republicans and two Democrats vying for nomination. But that district may lean slightly more Democrat than CD 2.

And in CD 8, where Republican Debbie Lesko just won a special election, she’s going to need to defend her seat. Former Maricopa County School Superintendent, who pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor to end felony bid-rigging charges against her years ago, also wants to be the GOP nominee in the heavy Republican district.

STATEWIDE

There’s a free-for-all of sorts among Republicans hoping to keep incumbent state schools chief Diane Douglas from again being the party’s nominee.

It was Douglas who four years ago in the Republican primary denied a re-election bid by John Huppenthal. And she barely edged out Garcia, running as the Democrat contender for superintendent of public instruction, winning by only 16,000 votes out of more than 1.46 million ballots cast.

This year, Douglas faces four members of her own party; two Democrats have filed for a shot at defeating whoever survives the GOP primary.