PHOENIX - The days when just about anyone can run for president in Arizona may be drawing to a close.
On a 48-3 margin Monday, the state House voted to scrap laws that let individuals put their names on the presidential preference primary simply by filing some paperwork.
The result of that system is that Republicans voting in Feb. 28's presidential preference election have to search through a list of 23 contenders, ranging from Wayne Arnett of Tempe to Tucsonan Ronald Zack, to select their choice. The Green Party has six candidates.
If the Senate goes along with HB 2379, starting in 2016, would-be presidential contenders will have to find at least 1,000 Arizonans willing to sign petitions to nominate them.
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, the sponsor of the measure, said there needs to be some standard to limit the ballot to those who are "serious" about running.
"What we do is get people who just want to throw their name in the ring so that they can say they ran for president," he said.
"I don't think that's necessarily good for the process, because it's confusing to go in (to the voting booth) and see names that they've not even heard of."
Farnsworth said he's not trying to erect hurdles in the path of legitimate candidates.
"Anybody can be on the ballot as long as they meet that standard," he said.
"I don't want it to be so high that you only get the elite who can go out and afford to pay for it," he said. It is not uncommon for candidates for other statewide and legislative offices, where there already are signature requirements, to hire paid circulators to qualify for the ballot. "But I also don't want it to be that you have 30 people on the ballot because they think it would be cool to tell their grandchildren they ran for president in 2012."
Farnsworth's legislation does provide two alternate paths to the ballot, both of which would seem to favor national candidates.
One provision says any candidate who has qualified for federal matching funds. That requires a candidate to raise at least $100,000 by collecting $5,000 in 20 different states, in amounts no greater than $250 from any individual.
And a candidate who manages to get on the ballot in 20 other states would automatically qualify for inclusion here.
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