By Jonathan J. Cooper | Associated Press
PHOENIX – Democrat Katie Hobbs was elected governor of Arizona on Monday, defeating an ally of Donald Trump who falsely claimed the 2020 election was rigged and refused to say they accept the results of their race this year would.
Arizona Secretary of State Hobbs became known as a staunch defender of the legitimacy of the last election and warned that her Republican rival, former TV news anchor Kari Lake, would be an agent of chaos. Hobbs’ victory adds more evidence Trump is straining his allies in a crucial battleground state as the former president prepares to announce a presidential bid in 2024.
She will succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who was barred from running for office due to term limits laws. She is the first Democrat to be elected governor of Arizona since Janet Napolitano in 2006.
Arizona, a former Republican stronghold where Democrats made gains during the Trump era, has been central to efforts by Trump and his allies to cast doubt on Joe Biden’s 2020 victory with false claims of cheating . That year, many Trump-backed candidates faltered in general elections in battleground states, even though his election in the race for Nevada governor Republican Joe Lombardo defeated an incumbent Democrat.
Before entering politics, Hobbs was a social worker working with homeless youth and an executive at a large domestic violence shelter in the Phoenix area. Elected to the state legislature in 2010, she served one term in the House of Representatives and three terms in the Senate, rising to become minority leader.
Hobbs won a narrow victory as secretary of state in 2018 and found himself at the center of a political storm as Arizona became the centerpiece of an effort by Trump and his allies to reverse the results of the 2020 election he lost. She appeared constantly on cable news and defended 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 refused to run, and Hobbs easily won her primary.
She campaigned cautiously, largely sticking to scripted and choreographed public performances. She declined to participate in a debate with Lake, claiming that Lake would make a spectacle out of it by spreading conspiracy theories and making false accusations.
Instead, she bet that voters would balk at Lake, who verbally tussled with reporters while cameras rolled, and struck a pugnacious tone against Democrats and even the establishment Republicans who have long dominated the state government.
Pre-election polls showed the race was a tie, 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 Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas, where the overwhelming majority of Arizona voters live. She also spent much of her time in rural areas to minimize her losses in regions traditionally supporting Republicans.
Lake is well known across much of the state, having anchored the evening news in Phoenix for more than two decades. She has come out as a harsh critic of the mainstream media, which she says is unfair to Republicans. She earned Trump’s admiration for her unwavering commitment to challenging the results of the 2020 election, a stance she has never strayed from, even after winning the GOP primary.
She baselessly accused election officials of being slow in counting votes this year and giving priority to Democrat ballots as she narrowly lagged Hobbs for days after the election.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said he increased security around the polling center on Monday in anticipation that the race would be called and emotions could run hot, though he said there was no specific threat. Protesters have been gathering outside the building for several days but have remained peaceful, he said.
“I think we’re getting close to the final, so I want to be sure we’re prepared,” Penzone told reporters at a press conference hours before the race.
The sheriff’s office was taken by surprise two years ago when armed and angry protesters entered the polling station in downtown Phoenix after Fox News and The Associated Press called Arizona for Biden in what was the first time in more than two decades that a Democrat won the state.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/11/14/hobbs-projected-to-beat-lake-in-arizona-governors-race/ Katie Hobbs beats Kari Lake in Arizona governor race