Hobbs wins Arizona governor’s race, flipping state for Dems

PHOENIX (AP) – Democrat Katie Hobbs he was elected governor of Arizona on Monday, defeated an ally of Donald Trump who falsely claimed the 2020 election was rigged and refused to say she would accept the results of his race this year.

Hobbs, who is Arizona’s secretary of state, emerged as a staunch defender of the legitimacy of the last election and warned that his Republican rival, former television news anchor Kari Lake., to be an agent of chaos. Hobbs’ victory adds further evidence that Trump is putting pressure on his allies in a key battleground state as the former president prepares to announce a 2024 presidential run.

She will succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who was prohibited by term limits laws from running again. She is the first Democrat to be elected governor of Arizona since Janet Napolitano in 2006.

“To the Arizonans who did not vote for me, I will work just as hard for you – because even in this moment of division, I believe there is much more that connects us,” Hobbs said in a statement declaring victory. “This wasn’t just about an election – it was about moving this state forward and addressing the challenges of our generation.”

Lake tweeted after the call, “Arizonians know BS when they see it.”

The Associated Press called the governor’s race for Hobbs after the latest round of polls gave her a big enough lead that the AP decided she wouldn’t surrender. The AP concluded that while Lake was posting increasing margins in poll updates from Maricopa County, she was not gaining a large enough share to overtake Hobbs and was pulling out of the votes that were left.

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The counting of votes had gone on for days from Tuesday’s election, as officials continue to evaluate large amounts of late-arriving ballots.

A once Republican stronghold where Democrats have made gains during the Trump era, Arizona is central to Trump and his allies’ efforts to cast doubt on Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory with false claims of fraud. This year, many Trump-endorsed candidates lost in general elections in battleground states, although he chose Republican Joe Lombardo in the Nevada governor’s raceDemocratic incumbent defeated.

Before entering politics, Hobbs was a social worker who worked with homeless youth and an executive with a large domestic violence shelter in the Phoenix area. She was elected to the State Legislature in 2010, serving one term in the House and three terms in the Senate, becoming minority leader.

Hobbs had a narrow victory in 2018 for secretary of state and has been thrust into the center of a political storm with Arizona at the center of efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost. She was constantly seen on cable news defending the integrity of the vote count.

The attention allowed her to raise millions of dollars and raise her profile. When she announced her campaign for governor, other prominent Democrats declined to run and Hobbs won her primary comfortably.

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She ran a cautious campaign, sticking closely to scripted and choreographed public appearances. She refused to participate in a debate with Lake, insisting that Lake would make a show of it by spouting conspiracy theories and making false accusations.

She promised instead that voters would push back against Lake, who has picked verbal fights with journalists while cameras are rolling and struck a combative tone toward Democrats and even the establishment Republicans who have long controlled state government.

Pre-election polls showed the race tied, but Hobbs’ victory still came as a surprise to many Democrats who feared her timidity would turn off voters. She beat expectations in Maricopa and Pima counties, in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas where the vast majority of Arizona voters live. She also spent a lot of time in rural areas, looking to minimize her loss in traditionally Republican-leaning regions.

Loch is well known in much of the state after anchoring the evening news in Phoenix for over twenty years. She ran as a fierce critic of the mainstream media, which she said is unfair to Republicans. She earned Trump’s praise for her steadfast commitment to questioning the results of the 2020 election, a position she did not take even after winning the GOP primary.

She accused election officials of slow-rolling vote counts this year and of prioritizing Democratic ballots in her narrow pursuit of Hobbs in the days following the election.

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Lake mentioned a problem with printers at about a third of the Maricopa County vote centers that prompted on-site tabulators to reject some ballots. Election officials told voters that ballots would be placed in a separate box to be counted later, but Republican leaders told their supporters to ignore that instruction and the lines in some places supported.

The problem affected about 7% of the ballots cast in person on Election Day and about 1% of the total number cast in the county.

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said he increased security around the election center Monday in anticipation of the race being contested and that emotions could be heated, though he said there was no specific threat. Demonstrators have gathered outside the building for several days but remain peaceful, he said.

“I think we’re getting close to the end game so I want to make sure we’re ready,” Penzone told reporters in a news conference hours before the race call.

The sheriff’s office was caught off guard two years ago when armed and angry protesters descended on the election building in downtown Phoenix after Fox News and the AP called Arizona for Bidenmarking the first time a Democrat won the state in more than two decades.

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Find out more about the issues and factors at stake in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And continue AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

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