Katie Hobbs defeats Kari Lake in the Arizona governor's race

AAfter a tough election in which she was criticized by both her allies and her opponents for running a weak campaign, Democrat Katie Hobbs pulled off a come-from-behind victory over Republican Carrie Lake to win Arizona’s governorship, according to the Associated Press.

The AP called the race Monday night after Arizona’s most populous county cast a fresh batch of roughly 71,000 votes, nearing the end of the count. Most of those were hand-delivered ballots on Election Day, which Lake’s campaign relied on to fill the gap. Lake was banking on expectations that those voters would swing in her favor, as former President Donald Trump won the majority of voters who cast their mail-in ballots on Election Day 2020, and analysts estimated that there was a significant percentage of the GOP voters who had absentee rolls left but who didn’t believe in mailing them in or depositing them in drop boxes.

Ultimately, those hopes faded when Monday’s election did not give Lake enough votes to overcome Hobbs’ lead.

Arizona’s gubernatorial race is largely determined by the two candidates’ dueling positions in the last election. Hobbs, as Arizona secretary of state, gained notoriety two years ago for opposing a pressure campaign by Trump and his allies to discredit Biden’s victory and defending the integrity of Arizona’s election. Lake, by contrast, has been outspoken in claiming that Biden did not legitimately win Arizona, despite multiple investigations that have found no evidence of substantial fraud.

Late Monday night, Lake suggested he might not take kindly to the results of his own loss. “Arizonians know BS when they see it,” she tweeted to her nearly 700,000 followers. A Lake campaign source tells TIME that Lake, who worked at “Military room” with dozens of lawyers before the election, was “winded up” all day and that her advisers discussed potential litigation on problems with tabs used to scan ballots at polling places in Maricopa County on Election Day.

Hobbs’ victory is part of a nationwide midterm sweep of GOP gubernatorial candidates who have embraced the former president’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, including Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Tudor Dixon in Michigan .

Hobbs also campaigned as a good government Liberal who would work to reduce poverty and expand access to the vote. She backed a series of state-level tax credits for low-income families and pledged to try to restore abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade. Since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 decision in June, Arizona has been mired in a legal dispute over which law prevails: a blanket ban on the 1964 procedure or a 15-week ban signed into law this year by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

Hobbs, 52, also sought to characterize his opponent as an “extremist” who could not be entrusted with the powers and responsibilities of the governor’s office. “Our race for governor is not about Democrats versus Republicans,” Hobbs told TIME last month. “It’s about sanity versus chaos.”

Lake, the former local news anchor who parlayed her built-in following and media acumen into a political career, became a right-wing sensation who regularly drew huge crowds. She often went viral by criticizing old colleagues in the press and sometimes causing heated confrontations with reporters. Political pundits saw her as a powerful threat to the soft-spoken Hobbes.

Read more: How Kari Lake went from local anchor to the new face of MAGA Right

One of Hobbs’ most controversial decisions during the campaign was to refuse to debate Lake. Hobbs said her opponent would use the opportunity to create a spectacle and “spread conspiracy theories”. The former social worker’s reluctance to face Lake on the debate stage was wide voices in the press as a cowardly move that could cost her the election.

At the same time, Hobbs has been hampered by a former employee’s race and sex discrimination lawsuit — which prompted Lake to call his opponent a “twice-convicted racist” — and a recent registration error in the Secretary of State’s office that should have affected nearly 6,000 voters .

Ultimately, however, Hobbs overcame these challenges to defeat a controversial candidate who not only made waves by casting doubt on the integrity of the 2020 election, but who also planned to embark on an aggressive, boundary-pushing populist conservative agenda. while in office.

Lake has vowed to issue a Border Invasion Proclamation, eradicate “awakening” from schools, and block vaccine mandates of any kind. She also plans to engage the Biden administration in a series of legal battles — on everything from education to immigration — in order to create favorable rulings from a conservative Supreme Court.

Carrie Lake speaks to supporters on election night in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Justin Sullivan—Getty Images)

Carrie Lake speaks to supporters on election night in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Lake’s loss to Arizona didn’t happen in a vacuum. Other Trump-backed candidates in the statewide vote lost by even larger margins, including Blake Masters for U.S. Senate and Mark Finchem for Secretary of State.

The Republican who ran for state office and had the strongest showing in Arizona was Kimberly Yee, who won re-election for state treasurer and whom Trump did not endorse. As of Monday evening, Yi was leading by nearly 260,000 votes. Although she was the only incumbent to run the state, Arizona politicians saw it as a telling sign that many Republicans and independents voted for her over the rest of the MAGA slate. “Some Republicans are voting for Yee to ensure that the Lake cartel clearly sees their collective middle finger,” Steve May, a former Arizona state lawmaker, told TIME.

Arizona’s gubernatorial race got off to a chaotic start last Tuesday when more than 20 percent of Maricopa County tabulators had trouble scanning their ballots, leading to voter frustration and the release of fake theories on the internet of voter suppression aimed directly at Republicans. By noon, county officials had diagnosed and fixed the problem.

Maricopa County accounts for more than 60% of the state’s registered voters, and after the 2020 election, Republicans across the country overwhelmingly prefer to vote in person on Election Day. But while such a tallying blunder had the potential to disenfranchise more conservative voters, no evidence emerged to suggest votes were not counted by the end of the night.

The election, instead, was based on what is known in Arizona as “late early,” an oxymoronic term that refers to mail-in ballots that voters deliver in person on Election Day.

While early returned ballots are usually processed and tabulated before Election Day, this process usually does not begin for “late early elections” until the day after the election, when they go through signature verification and other authorization processes to their legitimacy is guaranteed.

This year, Maricopa County received approximately 290,000 such ballots – more than 70% more than two years ago. This led to an agonizingly long vote count, which right-wing media figures described as a sign of incompetence or malfeasance. It was neither. Arizona election workers worked within election laws passed by Republicans in the state legislature.

Other states that counted votes more quickly did not allow ballots to be delivered as easily on Election Day. Florida, for example, allows voters to drop off mail-in ballots only at county election offices on Election Day, not at polling places statewide.

This disparity may also partly explain the fact that Arizona has a higher turnout rate than Florida. Fifty-nine percent of registered voters in Arizona voices ballots in 2020, while 57 percent from Florida. A difference of two percentage points in voter turnout can be decisive in a race as close as that between Hobbs and Lake.

As of Monday night, Lake had yet to concede, as many of her detractors feared after her refused to tell CNN last month whether he would accept the result if he lost. “I’m going to win,” she said, “and I’m going to accept that result.”

By Monday night, however, Lake’s campaign people seemed to have accepted her loss. “Maybe he’ll run for something again,” one of them told TIME. “Who knows?”

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