Arizona– Democrat Katie Hobbs is set to win her race against Republican Kari Lake, reports ABC News, and turn over the Arizona governor’s seat for the first time in more than a decade as midterm voters across the country appear to have experienced a startling rejection of ballot deniers and extremists have delivered at mid-term competitions.
Hobbs, the acting secretary of state, presented her duel with Lake with a choice between sanity and “chaos”.
“Do we want to elect a governor whose entire platform boils down to being a bad loser — or a governor who’s going to do the job for Arizona?” Hobbs said on the campaign trail, calling Lake their “election-denying, media-hating, conspiracy-loving, chaos-making opponent.” “.
Hobbs served eight years in the Arizona Legislature before being elected secretary of state and rising to prominence in 2020 with her defense of Arizona’s electoral system against a spate of baseless fraud allegations that put then-President Donald Trump and his allies in the national spotlight. That elevated profile helped her sail through the Democratic primary, but polls had shown she was statistically tied with — if not behind — Lake ahead of the election.
“It’s not called ‘battlefield’ for nothing,” Hobbs would say of her race.
Lake, one of Trump’s favorite supporters, quit her job as a local TV news anchor last year, citing media dissatisfaction. Months later, she announced a run for governor, saying Gott and Arizona voters urged her to run. Lake introduced herself as “Ultra MAGA” and “Mama Bear” who fought for the “Arizona First” movement, and she said her first act as governor would be to declare an invasion on the southern border.
“I welcome the attacks, and I welcome every part of it with the greatest joy,” Lake said after her first win. “Because this fight before us proves to us that God is with us. He chose me and he chose you.”
Lake welcomed Trump’s attacks on the election he lost. On the stump, she often called President Joe Biden “illegitimate” and said she had failed in her legal duty to confirm his victory in 2020. If elected governor, she said she would sign legislation to do away with electronic counting machines and switch to “one-day voting” in the state, where voting by mail is a popular option.
“When people tell me what the hottest issue is in Arizona, I say, ‘OK, the border is big, the economy is big, inflation is a problem, our election integrity’ — but what’s really getting us into the elections us mama bears and papa bears is what they want to do to our kids,” Lake said on election night, addressing social issues and attacks on “gender confusion.”
Given her stance on election denial, Lake is not widely viewed as a candidate who will accept defeat after all the votes are tallied.
“We’re going to win — and if we win, it’s going to come to Jesus for the Arizona election,” Lake said while voting in downtown Phoenix last Tuesday. “There will be a coming to Jesus.”
Asked last month if she would give up her race if she lost, Lake told ABC News’ Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl that she would — “if we have a fair, honest, and transparent election.”
During the campaign, Lake Hobbs repeatedly called for her retirement as secretary of state, insisted she “wouldn’t lose to Katie Hobbs,” and recently hired Harmeet Dhillon, the Republican National Committee’s attorney, while her team continued legal challenges to the vote weighs.
Lake had also suggested foul play in the primary before she won. “We overruled the fraud,” she said at the time.
Hobbs is the third statewide Democrat ABC has predicted to win his midterm race this year, after Sen. Mark Kelly and Adrian Fontes, who succeed Hobbs as Secretary of State. While the Republican ticket mostly fought together, despite a coordinated campaign as part of Mission for Arizona, the Democrats regularly came out separately and raised unity questions on the ticket.
Hobbs has been criticized by pundits and voters alike for refusing to debate Lake, with Lake calling her a “coward,” but she claimed she would not engage with Lake and “make Arizona a subject of national ridicule.”
Laurie Roberts, a columnist for The Arizona Republic, called Hobbs’ refusal to debate Lake “a new level of political misconduct.”
“These are two candidates, each asking to govern a state of more than seven million people for the next four years. Voters have a right to see them side by side,” Roberts wrote. But that opportunity never materialized.
Lake also highlighted allegations of racism and sexism against Hobbs, citing a successful lawsuit filed by Talonya Adams, a former employee in Hobbs’ Senate office, who was fired. Hobbs said of Adams last year: “For my part, I can say with certainty that my decision to quit was not based on race or gender. There were other factors.”
Choosing a largely low-key campaign compared to Lake’s rallies, Hobbs hosted Q&A events that turned out to be in the hundreds. Like Trump, Lake embraced the press — and often fought with it.
Republicans flocked to Arizona to stoke Lake enthusiasm, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Steve Bannon.
But Trump also drew huge crowds in Grand Canyon State — notably losing to Biden in 2020 by more than 10,000 votes.
And there were prominent names who spoke out against Lake. Outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney invested in Arizona television commercials and clipped Cheney who said Q during a&A of the McCain Institute at Arizona State University: “I don’t know if I’ve ever voted for a Democrat — but if I lived in Arizona now, I certainly would. And for the governor and for the secretary of state.”
Former President Barack Obama also chimed in, saying being governor is “more than crisp lines and good lighting.”
“Katie, she may not be flashy,” Obama said at a rally with Democrats in Phoenix earlier this month. “It could have been her. She just chooses not to because she takes her work seriously.”
Barrett Marson, an Arizona GOP strategist, tweeted Friday after Kelly defeated Republican Blake Masters, “Arizona is a conservative state but not a Trump state. And voters keep telling us that.”
Marson predicted Hobbs would win in a state where a third of registered voters are independents because moderate GOP and right-wing independents “couldn’t take Lake,” he said. “And of course they listened to Lake, who proudly said she drove a stake in the hearts of McCain Republicans. Looks like the foot is on the other shoe.”
Lake narrowly won her primary over real estate developer Karrin Taylor Robson, who is seen as a more established candidate backed by former Vice President Mike Pence and outgoing Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Ducey had said that Lake was “putting on a show” and called her “Fake Lake,” but he ultimately backed her bid after her grand prize.
Along with the integrity of the elections, Lake made border security her main concern. Repeating lines from Trump’s victorious 2016 presidential campaign, she called migrants who crossed the border “known terrorists … murderers and rapists,” while often becoming attached to his thinking. “I know President Trump said that many, many years ago. It’s a fact,” she said at a Faith and Family festival.
While she struggled to articulate her own plan for the border, Hobbs blamed both parties in Washington for the inaction and warned that Lake’s southern border plan “would bring untold chaos to our state.” Key issues on her stump included public education, water management, and affordable housing.
Hobbs ran a television ad pledging to introduce a state child tax credit and reduce sales taxes on feminine hygiene products, diapers, baby food and over-the-counter medicines.
Her campaign picked up steam in September when a near-total abortion ban went into effect before statehood after the Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade had fallen. Hobbs and Attorney General nominee Kris Mayes came out together to say that unlike their opponents, they would not push through abortion bans in Arizona.
When asked by ABC News last month if she would support legislation that protects abortion until it is viable, Hobbs said she didn’t want to “talk about hypotheses.”
“The reality right now is that Arizonans are living under extreme prohibition at 15 weeks or there is a possibility of total prohibition, and we need to focus on making sure Arizonans have access to a safe, legal abortion,” she said. “And I will do that.”
Lake was rumored to be a potential vice presidential pick for 2024 if Trump won the Republican nomination, but it’s unclear what her political future holds with her projected loss in the gubernatorial race.
Since Arizona is one of five states without a governor’s mansion, Hobbs will likely continue to reside in the greater Phoenix area with her husband Pat, two children, and their dog, Harley.