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No Republicans running for Tucson mayor after filing deadline

Democrats are jockeying for primary support in Tucson's city elections, but no Republican mayoral candidate managed to gather nominating signatures to make the ballot, with Wednesday's filing deadline having passed.

In each of the two East Side wards, a Republican filed for the Council-seat races.

Three Democrats easily gathered enough support on nominating petitions for the open mayoral seat, and will face off in the August primary: Randi Dorman (3,875 signatures; 1,978 needed for a Dem to run for mayor), Steve Farley (3,954 sigs) and Regina Romero (3,921).

A pair of Republicans made attempts to get on their party's primary ballot, but fell short. Frank Konarski, a landlord who's been involved in numerous lawsuits against the city, filed as a candidate more than two years ago but didn't turn in any petitions.

Sam Nagy arrived at the City Clerk's Office on Wednesday with some petitions, but short of the 1,167 valid signatures to be named on the ballot, officials said. Nagy told TucsonSentinel.com he was about 454 signatures shy of the minimum.

Not appearing on the primary lists but moving straight to the November ballot is Ed Ackerley, an independent candidate for mayor. Ackerley turned in 5,200 signatures, while needing 2,445 on his petitions.

For all of the candidates, the number of signatures turned in were well above the minimum requirements, making any successful petition challenges unlikely.

Democratic voters on the West Side will see the most choices, with four candidates filing for the Ward 1 seat being left open with Romero's push to be mayor. 

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Rob Elias (644), Sami Hamed (624), Miguel Ortega (487) and Lane Santa Cruz (634) all turned in more than the 323 necessary signatures for a Democrat in that race.

No Republicans or other candidates filed to run in the ward, meaning the primary winner will face no opposition on the November ballot, barring a write-in candidate, and almost certainly take office in December.

In Ward 2, on the Northeast Side, Democratic incumbent Paul Cunningham (705 sigs; 427 needed) will meet GOP challenger Ewart Williams (743 sigs; 425 needed) in the general election, as neither has a primary opponent.

In Ward 4, the Southeast Side ward with a seat opening up after the retirement of longtime Democratic Councilwoman Shirley Scott, Democrat Nikki Lee (503 sigs; 279 needed) will meet former TUSD Governing Board member Mike Hicks (526 sigs; 315 needed for a Republican in the ward) in the general.

Also not filing any nominating petitions by the deadline were Denny "Dr. Denny Two Watches" Crafton and Eric Hottel, who'd filed as Democratic mayoral candidates, and Brian Brennan, a Democrat in Ward 4 who quickly withdrew from the race over residency issues.

Neither Joe Arocha, an independent who filed to run for mayor, nor Robert Reus, a non-party candidate in Ward 2, turned in any petitions.

Despite being able to get on the ballot with as few as three signatures (in Ward 1), no Libertarian candidates filed to run.

Of Tucson's 263,000 registered voters, nearly 118,000 are Democrats. The 59,000 Republicans are mostly on the East Side, with 18,000 in Ward 2 and 16,000 in Ward 4. With just 2,200 Libertarians and 921 Greens, the balance of voters — more than 82,000 — aren't signed up with any party and will have to choose which primary to take part in.

Tucson voters, under the City Charter, nominate City Council candidates by ward in the partisan primaries, but elect them in citywide general elections.

An initiative drive is underway to place a measure on the ballot changing that system to ward-only general elections for the Council — one of a long string of Republican-led efforts to shift Tucson's election process.

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The other three wards aren't up for re-election until 2021.

Another possible shift in Tucson's elections is a new mandate, just passed by the state Legislature, that city elections be held in even years. Proponents of Tucson's odd-year voting cycles have argued it allows voters to pay more attention to their local ballot choices; those who want to align city elections with statewide and federal elections argue it would save money and increase turnout.

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