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Democrat Katie Hobbs wins Arizona governor's race

Katie Hobbs Yuma ag.png
Lisa Sturgis/KAWC
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Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs meets with Yuma County ag leaders including Vic Smith, chief executive officer of JV Smith Companies, in Yuma on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- Katie Hobbs will be the next governor of Arizona.
The latest batch of 71,000 ballots to be tallied Monday from Maricopa County showed the Democratic contender picking up 30,825 additional votes. By contrast, Republican Kari Lake added 40,575 to her total.
But that 9,750-vote edge for the former TV news anchor who waged a campaign based largely on charges of election fraud in 2020 and criticism of the news media, failed to overcome the lead of more than 26,000 that Hobbs already had going into Monday. And some of the gains that Lake made were offset when Hobbs picked up nearly two-thirds of the additional 31,000 votes counted Monday in Pima County.
All that left Hobbs at the end of the night likely with a lead of more than 20,000 and 50.4% of the more than 2.54 million votes counted.
What makes that significant is that Maricopa County reports it has no more than 15,000 ballots yet to be counted -- and maybe far fewer than that. That's because the total includes about 7,600 ballots that may or may not "cured'' because signatures on early ballots did not match, and another 7,885 provisional ballots with questions, such as someone showing up at the polls without proper ID.
And Lake was counting on this last batch from Maricopa County going her way much stronger.
All totaled, there are about 43,000 uncounted ballots, including about 7,400 from Pima County which has given Hobbs a 60-40 edge and 8,200 from Pinal County where the votes have been breaking for Lake about 55-45.
The vote tallies come as the Arizona Republican Party may be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge.
On Monday, the party sent out a message on Twitter asking people to email if they checked in at a voting center in Maricopa County and faced issues with ballot printers or tabulators and were not permitted to vote.
All that goes along with complaints by Lake supporters that the way Maricopa County handled the election resulted in some people being disenfranchised. That is based on the fact that tabulators in about one out of every five vote centers were not reading all ballots that were produced on site.
County officials finally fixed the problem by adjusting the settings of the printers. But that did not occur for at least six hours after the polls were open -- and after some people said they left without casting a ballot because of long lines.
Bill Gates who chairs the county board of supervisors, said there was no reason for that to happen.
He said poll workers gave each person with a problem ballot the option of putting it into "Drawer Box 3'' in the tabulator. That would mean they would be taken to county elections headquarters at the end of the day to be counted rather than immediately at the on-site machines.
And Gates said if people didn't vote, the fault lies with the leaders of the Arizona Republican Party who put out a different message, reading from a Twitter post by Kelli Ward, the party chair.
"It says, 'Do not put your ballot in Box 3 or Drawer 3,' '' he said. "This was literally the opposite of what Recorder (Stephen) Richer and I were telling people,'' Gates said at a press briefing Monday before the latest results were released.
The result, he said, is people were afraid to put their ballot into that drawer. And the result was that people who were checking voters in at the polling places instead had to spend time explaining the situation which, in turn, caused the long lines.
Gates said county officials have "accepted our responsibility'' for the problems with the equipment.
"But I'm not willing to accept responsibility for issues that were caused by others,'' he said. "And it is clear to me that those lines were longer because members, leaders in one political party were spreading misinformation.''
Republican candidate for secretary of state Mark Finchem, for his part, was spreading his own rumors.
"Investigate the ballots from New Mexico,'' he said in a Twitter post Monday evening. That came after the results showed 51.8% of another 8,057 ballots counted from Apache County, which borders New Mexico, were for Democrat Adrian Fontes.
And Finchem, also without evidence, claimed that the ballot edge in Pima County for Democrats, including Fontes, was "ballot harvesting'' even though that practice of taking someone else's voted ballot is illegal except for family members, those in the same household and caregivers.
Finchem did not immediately respond to requests for proof or an explanation of either allegation.
Two other statewide races remain undecided with that last batch of votes from Maricopa County trending Republican.
As of Monday night, Democrat Kris Mayes was leading Republican Abe Hamadeh by nearly 4,200 votes in the race for attorney general. That is down from her 11,000-vote lead a day earlier.
And the new numbers put Republican Tom Horne about 5,500 votes ahead of incumbent Kathy Hoffman for state schools chief , seeking another term, was up over Republican Tom Horne by less than 4,200.
The difference in both races is virtually certain to trigger a recount which, based on a new state law, occurs when the margin between candidates is less than one-half of one percent.
Sen. Mark Kelly, seeking a full six-year term of his own, already clinched victory days earlier over Republican challenger Blake Masters. So did Fontes, running for secretary of state against Finchem.
Hobbs' victory is a counterpoint to the fact that Republicans apparently are going to remain in control of the state House and Senate. It gives her the power to veto idea she finds unacceptable.
The last time there was this kind of divided government was after Democrat Janet Napolitano was elected in 2002. She served until the end of 2008 when she took a job in the Obama administration, putting then-Secretary of State Jan Brewer, a Republican, in charge.
Hobbs, in a victory statement, promised to work "just as hard'' for those who voted for Lake.
"We all want safer streets, a secure border, better schools, lower costs, and water for generations to come,'' she said.
But Hobbs and her supporters also attacked Lake as being too radical for Arizona, and not just because of her unflagging loyalty to former President Trump. Other issues including abortion and claims that Lake would put cameras in classrooms so that parents -- and others -- could watch.
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On Twitter: @azcapmedia