Prepare your babies to be kissed and your hands to be shakenwith a bottle of Purel nearby, of course. Campaign filing season has begun.

The ballot will be as long as the election season, with federal, state and local races up for grabs, including those for U.S. Senate, legislature, county commissioners, school boards, dozens of judicial seats and under-the-radar contests that seem like they should be appointed, not elected: For example, register of deeds and soil and water conservation district members.

Candidates can file for office through noon on Friday, Feb. 26. These were the filings through Tuesday afternoon at press time. We’ll keep you updated on daily filings on our Triangulator and Citizen blogs. The Indy‘s primary election endorsements issue is April 14.

State House and Senate races

If not the race, at least one of the main races to watchwith Ty Harrell’s old seat, District 41: Cary Town Councilman, Republican and outspoken blogger Don Frantz is running against incumbent Democrat Jennifer Weiss for House District 35. While Weiss is highly regarded among Democrats, the GOP is expected to make inroads in the ledge this year, and this district will likely be where the Republicans put their money.

Speaking of Ty Harrell, the bowtied former state rep has disappeared since resigning from his District 41 seat amid accusations of campaign finance irregularities. County Dems appointed Chris Heagarty to serve the rest of Harrell’s term, and he plans to run for election to that post. District 41 includes much of Cary, where the conservatives have long dominated. That means the Republicans could put some muscle into swinging District 41 back to the right, but first, the two GOP candidates, Todd Batchelor and Tom Murry, will have to duke it out. You might remember Batchelor’s name from when he ran for the 4th Congressional District in 2004. He’s also a past board member of the Wake County Taxpayers Association.

Murry, a two-term Morrisville Town Councilman, says he has the backing of some conservative stalwarts: newly elected Republican school board members Deborah Prickett and Chris Malone (It’s hard to say if that will help him or hurt him), Wake Commissioner Tony Gurley and state Reps. Nelson Dollar and Marilyn Avila.

With popular Democrat Dan Blue moving to the state senate last year to fill a vacancy left by the late Vernon Malone, his District 33 House seat is in flux. One contender is Bernard Allen II, a Democrat, who hopes to serve in the same district as his father, now deceased.

Republican Paul Terrell sees an opening in the district, having run against Blue in 2008.

After two failed attempts in 2006 and 2008 to secure the District 34 House seat, Republican J.H. Ross is running again, presumably against incumbent Grier Martin, who had not filed at press time.

As predictable as the sunrise, Republican and uber conservative Paul Stam is seeking reelection in District 37, which includes Apex, while incumbent Democrat Deborah Ross has yet to have competition in Raleigh’s District 38.

In District 40, conservative Marilyn Avila is looking to hold on to her seat, but to so, she’ll have to face Democrat and teacher Violet Rhinehart if no one else files and forces a party primary.

The interesting state race in Durham Countyearly on, anywayis in District 55, where Democrat Fred Foster Jr., a former county commissioner candidate and political director of the Durham chapter of the NAACP, is vying for that seat. It is currently occupied by conservative Democrat Winkie Wilkins, who is finishing his third term.

As expected, incumbent Democrats Mickey Michaux and Larry Hall are running to keep their House posts.

And if state Sen. Bob Atwater decides to run again, he’ll face a familiar opponent in Republican Roger Gerber, who faced him in 2008. Atwater’s district includes parts of Durham and Chatham counties.

In Orange County, there are no surprises thus far: Democratic Reps. Bill Faison and Verla Insko are running for re-election. State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird has announced she will seek an eighth term, but had not filed at press time. Lisa Sorg

County races

To see coverage of the Wake Commissioners race, see this week’s Citizen column.

In Durham, the big scramble will be for the commission slots: There are some current members who’ve made some very bad decisions that could come back to bite them. No one’s filed yet, and we’re holding our breath that some of them choose to step down to “spend more time with their family.”

The school board race has three candidates: Omega Curtis Parker in District 1. She’s expected to face Donald Hughes, who unsuccessfully ran for city council last year. Nancy Cox, who ran and lost in 2008, is trying again, while incumbent Stephen Martin is running to keep his District 4 seat.

It seems like Lindy Pendergrass has been Orange County Sheriff since Hillsborough was founded in 1754. (OK, it’s not been that longonly 28 years.) Rarely has the 75-year-old Pendergrass faced a viable opponent, but this election pits him against another cop, Hillborough Police Chief Clarence Birkhead.

Familiar faces are filing for Orange County Commissioner: incumbents Alice Gordon for District 1, which includes the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and Barry Jacobs, who is seeking re-election for an at-large seat. Jacobs was elected to his first term in 1998.

In the northern part of the county, Earl McKee of Rougemont has filed for District 2 commissioner. McKee represents Little River Township on the Orange County Unified Transportation Board and the planning board.

Computer scientist Will Atherton would like to take a crack at the school board, as would incumbent Debbie Piscitelli. Lisa Sorg

Football season ended two days ago, but in Chatham County a new season has begun for the small county’s favorite sport: politics.

Three seats are open on the Chatham County Board of CommissionersDistricts 3, 4 and 5and the winners could change the dynamics of the progressive board.

Democratic incumbents George Lucier (District 3), Tom Vanderbeck (District 4) and Carl Thompson (District 5) are seeking re-election.

Two Republicans have filed in District 3: former school board member Cadle Cooper and Chatham County Republican Chairman Brian Bock.

Meanwhile, the Chatham County Board of Education has three seats open District 3 and District 4, which has two representatives. So far, one candidate has filed: former Chatham Central High School teacher Martin Pinnock for District 3, currently held by Kathie Russell, who is still unsure if she will be able to run for reelection, due to a county mapping error that places her in District 2. Rebekah L. Cowell