Eleven days. That's when Southern Arizona voters will truly begin choosing the replacement for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Election day in the Congressional District 8 special election is still more than a month away on June 12, but don't be fooled into thinking that's how long voters will wait to choose between Democrat Ron Barber or Republican Jesse Kelly.
Early ballots go out in 11 days, and recent results show that's where the election will be won or lost.
In the Republican primary, 71 percent of the total votes cast were early ballots. Kelly carried 38 percent of those votes, allowing him to win comfortably despite receiving fewer votes on election day than Martha McSally and Frank Antenori.
People already on the permanent early voting list who live within CD8 will automatically receive early ballots. Those who wish to receive early ballots not on the list can call the Pima County Recorder's Office at 724-4330 and request them.
Time is running out for people not yet registered to vote: The deadline to register in the CD8 special election is May 14 at midnight. You can call the Recorder's Office at the number above or go to the website: www.recorder.pima.gov
Antenori Hedging bets
One of the many oddities created by having a special election followed by regularly planned elections in new congressional districts is that potential candidates submit their signatures to get on the ballot before they know the results of the special election.
That has put three Republicans who lost to Kelly in the CD8 GOP primary - McSally, Antenori and Dave Sitton - in the perilous position of having to decide if they'll run before knowing if Kelly will be an incumbent.
McSally, who finished second to Kelly in the primary, has said she'll submit her signatures and withdraw if Kelly wins. But it's not that simple for Antenori, who would would like to be re-elected to the state Senate if he's not running for Congress. His term in the state Senate ends at the end of this year.
Antenori said he's collecting signatures for both the new CD2 and a Senate run in Legislative District 10 to cover his bases. He already has enough for CD2, but needs more for the state Senate.
Collecting signatures for multiple races is legal, but state law prohibits a candidate from running for two different offices on the same ballot if the person would be prohibited from serving in both posts at the same time, said Secretary of State's Office spokesman Matt Roberts.
That means Antenori must decide by May 30 which ballot he wants to be on. He knows that, and said he'll likely wait another week before making his decision. Right now, he's leaning toward running for the state Senate because he's seen polls that show Kelly is well ahead of Barber and likely to win the special election.
He doesn't want to wait too long, he said, because he's focused his fundraising so far on his congressional race and wants time to bring in funds for a state Senate run.
"I have very little money in my state account," Antenori said.
Flake goes on the offensive
The back-and-forth shots continue between the two Republicans vying to become the next U.S. senator in Arizona.
Republican Jeff Flake released a new Web video questioning who's really funding primary opponent Wil Cardon's campaign and if it's legal.
Earlier this year, it was the Cardon campaign that was on the offensive, airing Internet, TV and radio ads about Flake's stances on immigration reform, his taxpayer-funded travels and his flip-flopping on issues.
But since about two weeks ago, the Flake campaign has been in full firing mode. Last week, the campaign launched a series of a "fact checks" about Cardon's comments.
The presumptive Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Richard Carmona, has to be enjoying the fireworks from where he sits. Not only is he free of the rigors of a primary, his future opponent will enter the general election race softened up.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or email@example.com