PHOENIX (AP) -- The run-up to the Arizona primary has been a lively affair, with a heated GOP governor contest, "dark money" spilling into several races and even legislative races turning vicious. The primary arrives Tuesday, and the results will shape several high-profile general election battles in November.
Here is a look at five things to watch for the primary:
The marquee contest is for Republican governor, as six candidates are running to replace outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer. But there is no shortage of intrigue in other races. In the Republican attorney general and superintendent of public instruction races, incumbents are fighting to keep their jobs. Several congressional races are being settled, and even legislative battles have attracted big spending as mainstream Republicans are under attack from tea party candidates.
Arizonans have been able to cast ballots by mail for the past several weeks. For those seeking the traditional voting route, polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. in most of the state. For voters who filled out a mail-in ballot and didn't have time to send it in, they can drop the ballot off at any polling location and have their votes counted.
The airwaves have been saturated with attack ads, partially the result of court decisions that have allowed unlimited spending by groups not affiliated with the campaigns. It is commonly called "dark money" because donors are not required to disclose their identity. The money has poured into virtually every race on the ballot, even for less-prominent contests like corporation commission. The body regulates utilities and other businesses in Arizona, and dueling utility and solar backers have been spending millions to influence the race.
Arizona allows registered independents to cast ballots in primaries, but voters have to request either a Republican or Democratic ballot. The influence of independents in the primary is seen as huge as their rolls have dramatically increased in size, surpassing registered Republicans as the state's largest voter bloc for the first time in March. As a result, Republicans in the governor race believe the independent vote could swing the election in a candidate's favor.
The action Tuesday in statewide races is mostly on the Republican side as many Democratic candidates are running unopposed, opting to save their money on what are sure to be expensive - and in some cases, uphill - general election contests. All three of the top candidates have some name recognition and experience in politics: Former Board of Regents member Fred DuVal for governor; Felecia Rotellini for attorney general in the race she nearly won in 2010; and former Phoenix mayor and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard for secretary of state.
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