Florida officials are encouraging qualifying candidates to file their paperwork early

Qualifying formally begins Monday at noon for Florida candidates seeking to run for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and the judiciary, as well as for 20th Judicial Circuit state attorney and public defender.

But Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Tuesday advised those intending to run for one of those offices that the paperwork can be submitted now.

“2018 will be a busy election year in Florida, and I encourage all candidates who plan to run for office to file qualifying papers within the permissible window,” Detzner said in a press release.

Most of the attention on the federal seats will be focused on the clash between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott. But Republicans will be working to maintain their majority in Florida’s congressional delegation, with the retirement of three members —- Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Tom Rooney and Dennis Ross —- and the loss of Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is running for governor.

The state allows qualifying papers to be submitted 14 days prior to the start of the filing period, which begins Monday and ends at noon on May 4.

Candidates must submit an oath and a fee to qualify for their races. For congressional candidates, the cost is $10,440 when running with a party affiliation, and $6,960 when running as an independent.

Judicial, state attorney and public defender candidates must also submit financial disclosure forms with the state.

Candidates for Congress and the U.S. Senate must also register with the Federal Election Commission, where they are required to file campaign finance reports.

Meanwhile, the qualifying period for Florida gubernatorial, Cabinet and legislative candidates —- along with county offices and multi-county special districts —- is June 18-22.

Paperwork for those races can be submitted starting June 4, according to the Division of Elections.