Democrat Katie Hobbs defeats MAGA favorite Kari Lake

Democrat Katie Hobbs defeats MAGA favorite Kari Lake in Arizona's high-stakes governor's race.
Democrat Katie Hobbs defeats MAGA favorite Kari Lake in Arizona’s high-stakes governor’s race.

Democrat Katie Hobbs defeats MAGA favorite Kari Lake in Arizona’s high-stakes governor’s race. According to NBC News, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has defeated Republican Kari Lake in Arizona’s governor’s race.

Hobbs’ victory is critical for Democrats in a presidential battleground state, as well as a rebuke to a prominent election denier – but the closeness of the race kept the outcome in doubt for nearly a week.

“I am pleased to have been chosen to serve as Arizona’s next Governor,” Hobbs said in a statement Monday night. “I’d want to express my gratitude to the voters for entrusting me with this enormous responsibility.” It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime honor, and I will do everything in my power to make you proud.”

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Officials in Maricopa County reported a record amount of early votes were dropped off on Election Day, necessitating a more time-consuming process that included signature verification. Maricopa, the state’s most populous county, said on Sunday that its count was 94% complete after receiving a record 290,000 early votes on Election Day.

Lake, a MAGA firebrand and former local newscaster who closely linked her campaign to former President Donald Trump and his false claims of a rigged election in Arizona, ultimately fell short after polling in the final weeks of the campaign suggested she was catching up to Hobbs, who, as secretary of state in 2020, vocally defended the state’s election system and the accuracy of its results.

Lake tweeted almost 90 minutes after NBC News declared Hobbs the winner: “Arizonans recognize BS when they see it.”

Hobbs’ low-key campaign approach contrasted significantly with Lake’s, who seemed to be everywhere on the trail. Lake’s television charisma boosted her campaign, but it did not appear to compensate for voter concerns about her 2020 election and abortion rights positions, as well as how closely she aligned herself with the former president, who saw independent voters in the state abandon the Republican Party during his presidency, allowing Joe Biden to flip the once-ruby-red state.

The stakes were really high. Arizona has possibly the best opportunity for an anti-election candidate to win a swing-state governor’s race this autumn, presidential vote.

However, Arizona had some of the highest inflation rates in the country, and people were concerned about the large number of unauthorized immigrants entering the state from Mexico. Lake concentrated on the economy, education, and crime in the last weeks of her campaign, rather than her quest to reform election laws.

Nonetheless, election administration gained center stage in the last days of the campaign, on Election Day, and in the days that followed, as election officials dealt with a number of hiccups and votes took days to tally at a slow pace. Lake and other statewide GOP candidates attacked the process, with some implying criminal conduct without providing evidence.

“We had a huge day today, and don’t let those cheaters and crooks make you think anything otherwise,” Lake said at her election night gathering, adding that she projected victory “within hours.”

“We’ll declare victory and get to work turning this thing around,” she said.

Lake made it apparent at a Trump event in the state last month that she was still completely behind the former president: “I have some of these know-it-all consultants who say, ‘You know, you really need to step away from President Trump right now.'” And I tell them, ‘Put Hunter’s [Biden’s] crack pipe down right now.'”

Days earlier, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., advised Arizonans not to vote for Lake because of her refusal to accept the election results if she lost, adding that if she lived in Arizona, she would support Hobbs.

Cheney’s political action committee spent more than $500,000 on an ad in Arizona against Lake and fellow election denier Mark Finchem, who ran for secretary of state.

Lake thanked Cheney at the time, claiming her ad was accomplishing “exactly the opposite” and resulting in more votes.

“You’re welcome, @KariLake,” Cheney tweeted Monday night, just after Hobbs’ election was called.

Outgoing Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who attracted Trump’s ire for recognizing Biden’s 2020 victory, blasted Lake and endorsed her Republican opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson, during the primary. However, after her triumph, Ducey and Lake reconciled, and the Republican Governors Association, which Ducey heads, spent millions to support Lake.

Lake capitalized on Hobbs’ refusal to debate and used it to her advantage in the last weeks of her campaign. Last month, she even disrupted the start of a discussion when both candidates were meant to appear individually, demanding Hobbs come out and debate her before agreeing to leave the audience until it was her turn to speak.

Hobbs said last month, in response to allies’ concerns about her own campaign, “I am out here.” “I’m battling.” 

According to NBC News, Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State, Adrian Fontes, will defeat Republicans Blake Masters and Mark Finchem. The race for attorney general is still too close to call between Democrat Kris Mayes and Trump-backed Republican Abraham Hamadeh.

Hobbs said in an interview ahead of Election Day that she saw no evidence that the election denial movement, for which Arizona was in many respects ground zero, would fade after the ballots were counted.

“I think 2020 was the beginning of this long campaign,” Hobbs said, vowing to accept the results regardless of who won. “And, depending on the outcome of many of these elections, I believe it might get worse because Kari Lake has already stated that she will only accept the outcome if she is the winner. So I don’t think any of these people will go quietly if they lose their races.”

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