Seven candidates are vying to serve as the next sheriff of Pinal County, a post now held by one of those candidates -- embattled incumbent Paul Babeu.
Babeu faces stiff competition from three Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent.
Babeu quit his race for a seat in Arizona's Fourth Congressional District in the wake of multiple scandals that severely hampered both his campaign contributions and political support. He decided to run instead for reelection, pushing his number-two guy -- PCSO Chief Deputy Steve Henry -- out of the sheriff's race.
The feds, who have been investigating Babeu and his office staff for Hatch Act violations, that is politicking on the job, informed Henry he couldn't run for office and remain in his paid position in the Sheriff's Office, Babeu claimed.
Babeu submitted 1,278 nomination signatures by the Wednesday deadline, fewer than half of the number collected by Independent candidate for sheriff Ty Morgan.
Morgan, who had to collect at least 1,816 signatures, ended up submitting 2,800 signatures. Republicans in the race were required to turn in a minimum of 274 signatures.
Three other Republicans are poised to challenge Babeu for his post: Tom Bearup turned in 747 signatures. Derek Arnson submitted 415 signatures. Republican Jack McClaren, handed in 955.
Two Democrats also are in the packed race -- Glenn Millsaps turned in 642 signatures. And Kevin Taylor, 669. Democrats were required to turn in at least 262 to qualify for the ballot.
The signatures qualifying the candidates aren't verified as valid unless they are challenged, according to the Pinal County Elections Department.
The election trail will be a tough one for Babeu to traverse.
The scandal-ridden sheriff has to overcome:
Allegations that he and his attorney threatened Babeu's Mexican ex-boyfriend if he revealed details of their relationship
Poor political judgement that Babeu demonstrated in creating a profile on a website where gay men can arrange sexual liaisons, and his sending e-mails containing sexually explicit photos of himself
Revelations that he ran a Massachusetts school for troubled teens where state officials found repeated instances of sexual and physical abuse and that he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old boy who attended that school
Various investigations over e-mails and other records that were allegedly deleted in violation of state law
The accusations that he and his employees were unlawfully campaigning while on the job
Reports that he misused military-surplus items he obtained from the feds by selling them to raise funds for his office.