Arizona governor race: Democrat Katie Hobbs defeats Trump-backed Kari Lake

Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs greets supporters during a campaign eventin Phoenix earlier this month. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Katie Hobbs has won the Arizona governor’s race against Trump-backed Republican Kari Lake, AP reported, and will become the first Democrat to win the post since 2006.

Why it matters: Secretary of State Hobbs' win comes as a further rebuke to former President Trump, whose endorsed candidates lost in vital races for governor and control of Congress, as well as her Republican opponent’s prioritization of false claims about the 2020 election.

State of play: Hobbs, a former state legislator who was elected as Arizona's top elections official in 2018, will almost certainly have to work with a Republican-controlled legislature that is highly unlikely to pass any Democratic policies.

  • Among the issues she campaigned on were dramatically increasing teacher salaries, implementing a child tax credit for working families and repealing Arizona's pre-statehood ban on most abortions, which is in limbo due to ongoing litigation.
  • Still, Hobbs will be able to use executive orders and appointments to advance her agenda, though most significant gubernatorial appointments are subject to Senate confirmation or limited by other checks and balances.

Hobbs also will be able to use her veto pen to block conservative legislation, in the mold of the state's last Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano.

The big picture: Hobbs defied party odds to beat Trump-backed Lake, a former local TV news anchor who was endorsed by former President Trump and widely viewed as a rising star in the MAGA wing of the Republican Party.

  • Hobbs as Arizona’s secretary of state gained national prominence following the 2020 election as a voice of opposition to Trump and his allies’ false claims it was rigged.
  • She also attracted more outside spending than any Arizona Democratic gubernatorial nominee in years.

Between the lines: Though polling had consistently shown a close race, Democrats became increasingly pessimistic and frustrated in the final weeks of the election cycle as Hobbs' campaign faltered.

  • She made headlines for refusing to debate Lake despite the dwindling usage of the political tradition in races up and down the ballot all over the country.

The intrigue: Lake, who has repeatedly spread false and baseless claims about election fraud throughout her campaign, would not commit to accepting the results of the election if she lost.

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