Katie Hobbs Enters Race For Arizona Governor
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has the highest name ID of any potential statewide candidate, made it official Wednesday in declaring she wants to be Arizona's next governor.Hobbs, who has gained increased visibility with her attacks on Republican efforts to question the outcome of the 2020 election, said her office, which is in charge of elections statewide, did its job.
"They refused to do theirs,'' she said in a video announcing her bid. "And there's a lot more work to be done.''
And Hobbs, in an interview with Capitol Media Services, made no secret of the fact she intends to use that dispute -- and the continued arguments over whether Donald Trump lost Arizona and Senate-ordered audit of the results -- to make her case for her election.
"We are currently being led by a group of conspiracy theorists who are out of touch with everyday Arizonans,'' she said.
Conversely, Hobbs is hoping to grab the votes of other Arizonans who believe the elections, which fall under the purview of the Secretary of State's Office, were done quite well.
"I am a battle-tested statewide leader,'' she said.
"In 2020 my office oversaw three of the most successful elections in recent history,'' Hobbs said, meaning the presidential preference primary and the regular primary and general elections for statewide, legislative and local offices. More to the point, she said, it was done in the face of "unprecedented challenges.''
"We were in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic,'' Hobbs said. Add to that, she said, the misinformation about the accuracy of elections coming from the White House.
"We made sure that Arizonans didn't have to choose between their freedom to vote and their health and safety,'' Hobbs said. "And that's what I'll bring to the governor's office.''
She acknowledged that the duties of governor involve a wider scope of issues than that of secretary of state. But Hobbs said she dealt with those during her eight years in the legislature, including a stint as minority leader, saying that shows she can work in her bipartisan fashion.
Among her priorities was pushing for the state to do something about its backlog of untested rape kits.
The number was 3,000 when she first raised the issue in 2012. By 2016, when it topped 6,000, she got Gov. Doug Ducey to agree to legislation.
She also was instrumental in approval of the bipartisan Opioid Epidemic Act that put limits on the use and prescription of the addictive drug, with Democrats getting money for treatment.
Hobbs could be a formidable candidate to beat, both in the primary and, if she survives, in the November 2022 general election.
OH Predictive Insights reported just last week that Hobbs topped the polling firm's "power rankings'' among all voters. That includes both name ID as well as net popularity.
Among Democrats she placed third, behind Sen. Mark Kelly who is seeking a six-year term of his own, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.
But what is crucial is that she was in the top slot among independents who play a crucial role in choosing statewide candidates.
They make up 32.2 % of registered voters, more than Democrats and close to the 34.9% who identify as Republicans. That gives them the power to alter elections in what has traditionally been a Republican-dominated state.
Incumbent Ducey took the top slot among Republicans in the OH Predictive Insights report. But he is constitutionally precluded from seeking a third term and may be angling for some federal post.
Behind him is Attorney General Mark Brnovich who is weighing a bid against Kelly for the Senate, followed by state GOP Chair Kelli Ward.
Hobbs gained not just statewide but also national attention since the election.
She has been a key voice questioning not only the wisdom of an audit of the returns ordered by Senate President Karen Fann but also how it is being conducted.
Hobbs filed suit and got a judge to order the firms hired by the Senate to follow certain procedures when dealing with the 2.1 million ballots and the equipment they had subpoenaed. More recently, she wrote to the supervisors informing them that the activities of those auditors likely has compromised the machines, meaning they cannot be used in the 2022 election.
That created a political backlash.
There were protesters at her house and death threats, all of which led to Ducey extending her protection from the Department of Public Safety.
And GOP lawmakers are pushing legislation to strip Hobbs of not only her ability to hire outside counsel but also any role in defending the state against future lawsuits challenging state election laws.
They also are moving to remove her control over the State Capitol Museum, a move that some say is retaliation for her hanging a "gay pride'' flag on the old Capitol building in 2019.
Yet Hobbs has Republican allies of sort in the form of the four Republicans on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors who have found common cause with her in opposition to the Senate audit.
Hobbs joins former Nogales Mayor Marco Lopez in the hunt for the Democratic nomination. Congressman Greg Stanton also may make a bid.
So far there are three major GOP contenders: State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, Karrin Taylor Robson who is a member of the Board of Regents, and former Phoenix Fox-TV affiliate anchor Kari Lake. Other Republicans also may be waiting in the wings.
Both Hobbs and Lopez agreed to interviews; all of the Republicans to date have limited their communications to prepared videos.
Arizona's last Democratic governor was Janet Napolitano, elected in 2006 and again in 2006. She quit in early 2009 to take a slot in the new Obama administration.
Hobbs, elected secretary of state in 2018, inherited an agency that some, including Brnovich, found to be not properly functioning under predecessor Michele Reagan.
The problems most notably included the 2016 special election -- the first one run by Reagan -- where she failed to comply with state laws requiring voters to get pamphlets explaining the issues before they actually got their early ballots. Brnovich said an investigation revealed that Reagan actually knew about the problem for weeks before she finally went public, calling the whole fiasco a "goat rope.''
Reagan lost the 2018 GOP primary to Steve Gaynor who, in turn, narrowly lost to Hobbs.