There are 114 Democratic candidates vying for a seat in the Arizona Legislature this year

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PHOENIX (AP) — There are 114 Democratic candidates vying for a seat in the Arizona Legislature this year.

It’s the first time since 1988 that so many Democrats have jumped into the race, and it’s a 41 percent increase from 2016 when 81 Democrats qualified for the ballot, the Arizona Capitol Times reported .

The second highest number of Democrats who have run for the Legislature in the past 20 years was in 2002 when 101 filed for office, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

The goal is to saturate the ballot in hopes of getting as many Democrats elected as possible, said Charles Fisher, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

Fisher calls it the “reverse coattail effect.” Rather than having a big-name candidate at the top of the ticket drawing in voters, he said he hopes having a candidate in almost every legislative race will drive up voter turnout on an off-year election. Their presence could possibly lead to success at the statewide level and in the U.S. Senate race, he added.

But several long-time state Capitol insiders disagree on whether the surge in Democratic candidates and the party’s momentum can translate to real success this year.

Longtime Capitol lobbyist Barry Aarons said Democrats have to make sure they don’t spread themselves too thin, focusing on a handful of seats they can actually seize instead of on all 90.

Aarons also said the momentum could backfire, waking up a dormant Republican majority that has for decades coasted through the election without a primary or general foe.

He said he has spoken with incumbents in what have typically been considered safe districts and they aren’t taking anything for granted this year, ramping up campaign efforts to ensure they are re-elected.

“Democrats have to be careful that they don’t wake up the beast and wake up after the election and find that they’ve lost some seats,” he said.

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Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com