The deadline to file as a presidential candidate in Arizona is today. Here are 3 things to watch as the 5 p.m. deadline approaches.
First, some of the major candidates are waiting until the last minute to file. According to the Secretary of State, many of the top-tier Democrats in the presidential field have qualified for the Presidential Preference Election (PPE) ballot in March, including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. Outsiders like Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bennett, Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer also qualified. Notably, Cory Booker and Julian Castro have not filed any paperwork.
Second, there is a dearth of high-profile surrogates that have signed onto the campaigns. Each candidate is required to designate an Arizona-based point of contact, which can be seen as form of endorsement or indication of gravitas. For example, Joe Biden designated Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy and Bernie Sanders designed former State. Rep. Wenona Benally Baldenegro. But the other candidate surrogates are lesser known.
Finally, we will know today whether a spoiler candidate has qualified for the PPE ballot through unconventional means. A.R.S. § 16-242(C) allows a candidate to qualify for the PPE ballot by filing at least 500 petition signatures, a provision (in its present form) that has never been utilized. But here is the quirk: the County Recorders do not review these signatures to confirm the signers are “qualified electors,” nor does A.R.S. § 16-351 allow a lawsuit challenge. These signatures are, for all intents and purposes, unreviewable through normal means. If a spoiler candidate wants to test the system by turning in questionable signatures, it will take a creative election attorney to knock that candidate off the ballot.
Following today’s deadline, the ballot order will be determined by the Secretary of State on Wednesday at 10 a.m. by drawing names from a bowl.