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

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

Hobbs, who is Arizona’s secretary of state, rose to prominence as a staunch defender of the legitimacy of the last election, warning that her Republican rival, former television news anchor Kari Lake, would be an agent of chaos. Hobbs’ win adds further evidence that Trump is placing a heavy burden on his allies in a critical battlefield state as the former president gears up for an announcement of a 2024 presidential run.

She succeeds Republican Governor Doug Ducey, who is barred from running again under term-limiting laws. She is the first Democrat to be elected governor in Arizona since Janet Napolitano in 2006.

“For the Arizonans who didn’t vote for me, I’ll work just as hard for you — because even in this moment of division, I believe there is so much more that connects us,” Hobbs said in a statement announcing the win. “This wasn’t just about elections — it was about moving this state forward and meeting the challenges of our generation.”

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

The Associated Press named the governor’s race for Hobbs gave her a big enough lead after the final ballot for the AP to determine that she would not relinquish it. The AP concluded that while Lake had been placing ever-increasing margins in Maricopa County voting updates, she was not gaining enough market share to overtake Hobbs and her remaining votes were nearly exhausted.

The counting of votes had been going on for days since Tuesday’s election, when officials continued to count huge amounts of late ballots.

Arizona, a former Republican stronghold where Democrats made gains during the Trump era, has been at the center of efforts by Trump and his allies to question Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory with false claims of fraud. This year, many Trump-backed candidates faltered in general elections in battlefield states, though his pick in the race for Nevada governor, Republican Joe Lombardodefeated an incumbent Democrat.

Prior to entering politics, Hobbs was a social worker who worked with homeless youth and an executive at a major 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, rising to minority leader.

Hobbs won a narrow victory as Secretary of State in 2018 and was thrust into the center of a political storm as Arizona became the focus of efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse the results of the 2020 election he lost. She constantly appeared on cable news to defend the integrity of the vote count.

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

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

She bet instead that voters would balk at Lake, who provoked verbal altercations with reporters as cameras rolled and struck a combative tone against the Democrats and even the establishment Republicans who have long dominated the state government.

Pre-election polls showed that the race was tied, but Hobbs’ victory still came as a surprise to many Democrats who feared her shyness would scare voters away. She exceeded expectations in Maricopa and Pima counties, the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson, where the vast majority of Arizona voters live. She also spent a lot of time in the countryside, trying to minimize her losses in regions that traditionally support Republicans.

Lake is well known throughout much of the state after anchoring the evening news in Phoenix for more than two decades. She has been a fierce critic of the mainstream media, which she says is unfair to Republicans. She earned Trump’s admiration for her unwavering commitment to questioning the results of the 2020 election, a stance she never wavered from even after winning the GOP primary.

She baselessly accused election officials of letting the vote count roll slowly this year and prioritizing Democratic ballots while narrowly following Hobbs in the days following the election.

Lake has cited a problem with printers at about one-third of polling places in Maricopa County, causing local tabulators to reject some ballots. Election officials told voters to put the ballots in a separate box to be counted later, but Republican leaders told their supporters to ignore that instruction and lines were pulled back in some places.

The issue affected about 7% of in-person ballots on Election Day and about 1% of the county’s total cast.

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said he had increased security around the election center Monday in anticipation of the race being held and emotions could run high, though he said there was no specific threat. Protesters have gathered outside the building for several days but have remained peaceful, he said.

“I think we’re getting close to the endgame, so I want to make sure we’re prepared,” Penzone told reporters in a press conference hours before the race call.

The sheriff’s office was overrun two years ago when armed and angry protesters raided the election building in downtown Phoenix after Fox News and the AP called Arizona for Bidenthe first time in more than two decades that a Democrat won the state.

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Read more about the issues and factors at play during the midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 election at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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