Democrat Katie Hobbs elected to be Arizona’s next governor over Kari Lake, AP projects

Hobbs is the first Democrat to be elected governor in Arizona since Janet Napolitano in 2006.
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 7:19 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2022 at 8:34 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs is projected to become the state’s next governor, according to The Associated Press. Hobbs held narrow leads for nearly a week straight over her GOP opponent Kari Lake, a former TV news anchor. She will succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who was prohibited by term limit laws from running again. She’s the first Democrat to be elected governor in Arizona since Janet Napolitano in 2006.

The two have been in a close battle since Election Day. Lake came close to narrowing the gap after several large ballot drops from Maricopa County but couldn’t overtake her opponent. After the last big ballot drop from Maricopa County on Monday evening, Hobbs saw her lead shrink to 20,481 votes but was able to pull away with the win. As of Sunday evening, Lake needed 65% of the remaining ballots to surpass Hobbs. On Monday, she recorded 56.83%, unable to take the lead. With the remaining 60,000 statewide votes left, Lake would have needed nearly 70%. Vote counting had gone on for days since the Tuesday election, as officials continued to tally massive amounts of late-arriving ballots.

Hobbs thanked everyone after the race was called, tweeting, “Democracy is worth the wait. Thank you, Arizona. I am so honored and so proud to be your next Governor.” Lake tweeted after Hobbs was called, stating “Arizonans know BS when they see it.”

Hobbs also released a statement, vowing to “get to work” and work hard for all Arizonans.

Raquel Teran, Arizona Democratic Party Chair, released a statement on Monday, declaring Hobbs the winner. On Sunday, Hobbs’ campaign manager Nicole DeMont also claimed victory and called Hobbs “the unequivocal favorite to become the next Governor of Arizona.”

Lake’s campaign didn’t respond to DeMont’s statement. However, Lake was tweeting on Monday evening, urging supporters to check the status of their ballots.

Hobbs, who serves as Arizona’s Secretary of State, prevailed in the midst of an extremely heated race, winning despite not debating her vocal GOP challenger. She has also made limited media appearances and honed her resources on addressing rural communities through smaller and private events.

Hobbs’ win also comes despite most polls in the days leading up to Election Day having Lake in the lead. Pre-election polls showed the race was tied, but Hobbs’ victory was still a surprise to many Democrats who feared her timidity would turn off voters. She overcame expectations in Maricopa and Pima counties, the metro Phoenix and Tucson areas where the overwhelming majority of Arizona voters live. She also spent considerable time in rural areas, looking to minimize her losses in regions that traditionally support Republicans. An Emerson poll conducted from Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 gave Lake a three-point advantage. Late last month, an Arizona’s Family/HighGround poll had Hobbs at a one-point advantage, 45.8% over Lake’s 44.8%.

Hobbs’ background

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, rising to minority leader.

Hobbs eked out a narrow win in 2018 as secretary of state and was thrust into the center of a political storm as Arizona became the centerpiece of the efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost. She appeared constantly 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 comfortably won her primary.

Quiet campaign worked in her favor

“She prefers choreographed events in which she largely sticks to a script and limits her interactions with journalists,” an Associated Press report detailed her back in October. That report came after Hobbs drew national headlines, particularly those in the conservative space after she refused to debate her Republican challenger. Lake repeatedly hurled insults at Hobbs, calling her a “coward.”

Instead, Hobbs took part in a 30-minute interview with Arizona PBS, where she responded by saying she didn’t want to create a “spectacle.”

Now the work begins to unite voters on both sides of the spectrum.

On The Issues

Much of Hobbs’ policies focus on the historic drought and water shortage that southwestern states like Arizona are dealing with, plus a homelessness and affordable housing crisis that helped place the Phoenix metropolitan area as one of the hardest hit with inflation.

On the issue of reproductive rights, Hobbs said she would call a special session to repeal a pre-statehood 1901 law that, if it takes effect, would criminalize medical providers for providing abortion care. Her campaign’s website notes of policies that include expanding reproductive health care made available to Medicaid users and increasing family planning services funding.

When it comes to the ever-growing surge of migrants at the Arizona-Mexico border, Hobbs says she will seek a boost in funds for sheriff and local law enforcement agencies. Part of her plan also includes providing the Department of Public Safety “assistance directly to sheriffs” at the border to handle migrant crossings.

“I think the wall is a very symbolic gesture and people like it because they can see it, feel it and touch it. It’s not the only answer because there are places that can’t be walled and technology that can help address those gaps,” Hobbs said during an October interview with Arizona PBS.

When pressed by the moderator, she said she would be open to a border wall if it was a plan conducted in part by the federal government.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.