Democrats need major turnout to win in Arizona

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- After months of campaigning, candidates for Arizona's top elected offices will find out Tuesday if they persuaded enough voters to back them to win.

Democrats who hope to gain statewide offices for the first time in four years worked the days leading up to Election Day trying to get out the vote and overcome a Republican advantage in early ballot returns.

The slate of candidates vying for governor, secretary of state, attorney general and other constitutional offices will need a major turnout of Democrats on Tuesday to win in a year shaping up as decidedly Republican nationally.

Meanwhile, the Republican candidates finished a four-day statewide tour Monday with stops in three northern Arizona communities, ending at the county courthouse in the onetime territorial capital of Prescott late in the evening.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. and close at 7 a.m., and the candidates and public should see the first results at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The deadline for returning early ballots by mail passed last week, so those ballots must be delivered to a polling place or county recorder's office by close of business to be counted.

Republican Doug Ducey is casting himself as the front-runner in the governor's race, while Democrat Fred DuVal is hoping a high Democratic turnout will overcome the Republicans' early ballot advantage.

But DuVal wasn't saying he is behind, instead pointing to continued spending by outside groups backing Ducey, like the Republican Governors Association, as proof the race is closer than many believe.

"This is a total tossup, and turnout will matter, and it will be close," DuVal said. "The fact that the RGA continued to increase its expenditure in the last 10 days of the campaign confirms what we know to be the case, which is this is going to be a close election."

Ducey and Duval have each spent about $2.2 million in their general election campaign, but Ducey has benefited from $7.9 million in outside spending compared to about $1 million for DuVal.

Ducey, in an interview Monday, said he's eager to see the vote totals on election night but believes he has a path to victory.

"We want to see the returns, we want to see the totals," Ducey said. "That's why we're hopscotching all over the state today."

Other top statewide races on Tuesday's ballot include the battle between Democrat Felecia Rotellini and Republican Mark Brnovich for attorney general, Democrat Terry Goddard and Republican Michele Reagan for secretary of state, and Democrat David Garcia against Republican Diane Douglas for superintendent of public instruction. All nine congressional seats are also on the ballot, with close races expected in the 1st and 2nd Districts and possibly the 9th.

"I'm very excited about this election because the Democrats have taken this country off to the left somewhere I don't even know about. So we have to get rid of them and get this country back on track," said Phoenix resident Ted Cook, who voted about an hour after polls opened.

Katherine Roxlo of Phoenix said she went with the Democratic ticket, believing her party is doing a good job.

"I may be in the minority, but I think Obama is doing a good job. But I also think education in Arizona has been decimated, and we need to focus more on that. I don't think the Republican Party is doing that," Roxlo said. "Republicans are trying to dismantle our education system."

Ducey and Duval said Monday that they were hoping voters hear their messages. Ducey went back to his business experience to make his final pitch.

"Put a businessman and a job creator in the governor's office," Ducey said.

DuVal cast the race differently.

"Is Arizona poised for a change or going to double down on the existing policies that are not producing either a strong economy or good education outcomes?" DuVal asked. "Arizona's really got to decide whether we're going to keep doing what we're doing or whether we're going to move into the 21st century."

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Associated Press Writers Brian Skoloff and Walter Berry contributed to this report.

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