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Arizona governor's race: Lake closes gap against Hobbs but the Democrat still leads

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Lisa Sturgis/KAWC
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Arizona gubernatorial candidates Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake.

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- Republican Kari Lake closed the gap slightly on Sunday in the Arizona governor's race with Katie Hobbs.
But unless she can do a lot better with the nearly 95,000 Maricopa ballots that remain to be counted, the Democratic secretary of state will be the next governor.
The latest results show that Lake was the choice of 54.6% of the approximately 98,600 whose early ballots from Maricopa County were tallied on Sunday.
But that gain was offset slightly by the fact that another nearly 12,000 ballots counted in Pima County went for Hobbs by a 3-2 margin.
That left Lake still behind by 26,011 votes at the end of the night out of more than 2.42 million ballots already tallied, with Hobbs still having 50.5% of the statewide vote.
Lake has been counting on these last votes out of Maricopa County to put her over the top. She said these are from people who, following advice from some Republican candidates, refused to put their early ballot in the mail or into a drop box and instead take it directly to a polling place on Election Day.
There were a record 290,000 of these ''day-of'' dropoffs. And they also are the last to be counted.
But at this point, Lake would appear to need to get at least 60% of those yet-to-be-counted Maricopa ballots to overtake Hobbs, a margin she has not been able to marshal so far.
That also presumes any gains she makes in Maricopa County are not offset by what is likely to be support that Hobbs will tally among the nearly 39,000 uncounted Pima County ballots.
Lake did not respond to a request for comment.
But Nicole DeMont, Hobbs' campaign manager, wasted no time in declaring victory for her candidate.
"Katie has led since the first round of ballots were counted,'' she said. "And after tonight's results, it's clear that this won't change.''
Other undecided statewide races remain far too close to call.
The relatively strong showing for Republicans in the latest batch to be counted cut sharply into the lead that Democrat Kris Mayes has over Abe Hamadeh in the race for attorney general. She now has 50.2% of the vote, down three-tenths of a point from Saturday.
But her lead of 11,328 could easily be wiped out with a strong showing for Hamadeh when more ballots are counted on Monday.
And incumbent schools chief Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat, now essentially is tied 50-50 with Republican Tom Horne, having just a 592-vote edge.
Sunday's tally did cut slightly into the lead that Sen. Mark Kelly has over Republican Blake Masters. But Kelly, who already was declared the winner, still has 51.6% of the vote and is leading by 127,746 who has just 46.3%, with the balance going to Libertarian Marc Victor who dropped out of the race last month. And with only about 160,000 votes yet to be counted statewide, there is really no way for Masters to catch up.
The same is true in the race for secretary of state, also already declared for Democrat Adrian Fontes, who is outpolling Republican Mark Finchem by 123,188 votes and maintains a 52.6% margin statewide.
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On Twitter: @azcapmedia