Mesa Sen. Chuck Gray is scrambling to collect enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
Gray is worried that what he calls a “minor error” by his political campaign staff could keep him off the ballot, clearing the way for a Democrat to take over the legislative seat long held by a conservative Republican.
The incumbent lawmaker is racing to beat a 5 p.m. deadline today to file 481 signatures with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office to get on to the ballot.
So far, no other GOP candidates are running in the District 19 race.
“It was just a small mistake, but I just want to be safe,” Gray said.
Gray said he began collecting signatures in February and thought he had enough. But when he submitted the petitions on Monday, he was told by state officials that they were not filled out correctly.
Gray had mistakenly used the wrong dates for the Republican primary. His petitions said Sept. 5 but the primary is actually Sept. 12.
Arizona law requires that petitions contain accurate information regarding candidates as well as election dates.
Gray thinks the petitions would stand up to review, but he’s making a lastminute effort to get more signatures anyway.
Although he needs 481 signatures, he will be aiming for 700 to ensure he gets on the ballot in the event some of the new names are rejected.
Gray was appointed to the seat earlier this year after the unexpected death of longtime Mesa lawmaker Marilyn Jarrett.
To underscore the importance of the seat for the Republicans, party officials said they were working hard to rally support for Gray’s signature drive.
Garrick Taylor, a spokesman for the Arizona Republican Party, was hoping to pull together dozens of volunteers Tuesday night to gather names in Gray’s district.
Taylor, as well as other GOP officials, do not want to lose a seat in a district that traditionally has been a Republican stronghold.