Democrat Katie Hobbs was elected Arizona governor on Monday, defeating an ally of Donald Trump who falsely claimed the 2020 election was rigged and refused to say she would accept the results of her race this year.
Hobbs, who is Arizona’s secretary of state, rose to prominence as a staunch defender of the legitimacy of the last election and warned that her Republican rival, former television news anchor Kari Lake, would be an agent of chaos.
Hobbs’ victory adds further evidence that Trump is weighing down his allies in a crucial battleground state as the former president gears up for an announcement of a 2024 presidential run.
She will succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who was prohibited by term limit laws from running again. She’s the first Democrat to be elected governor in Arizona since Janet Napolitano in 2006.
“For the Arizonans who did not vote for me, I will work just as hard for you — because even in this moment of division, I believe there is so much more that connects us,” Hobbs said in a statement declaring victory. “This was not just about an election — it was about moving this state forward and facing the challenges of our generation.”
Lake did not immediately comment after the race was called.
The Associated Press called the governor’s race for Hobbs after the latest round of vote releases gave her a big enough lead that the AP determined she would not relinquish it.
The AP concluded that, even though Lake had been posting increasingly larger margins in vote updates from Maricopa County, she was not gaining a big enough share to overtake Hobbs and was running out of remaining votes.
Vote counting had gone on for days since the Tuesday election, as officials continued to tally massive amounts of late-arriving ballots.
A onetime Republican stronghold where Democrats made gains during the Trump era, Arizona has been central to efforts by Trump and his allies to cast doubt on Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory with false claims of fraud.
This year, many Trump-endorsed candidates faltered in general elections in battleground states, though his pick in the Nevada governor’s race, Republican Joe Lombardo, defeated an incumbent Democrat.
Before entering politics, Hobbs was a social worker who worked with homeless youth and an executive with a large domestic violence shelter in the Phoenix area.
She was elected to the state Legislature in 2010, serving one term in the House and three terms in the Senate, rising to minority leader.
Hobbs eked out a narrow win in 2018 as secretary of state and was thrust into the center of a political storm as Arizona became the centerpiece of the efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost.
She appeared constantly on cable news defending the integrity of the vote count.
The attention allowed her to raise millions of dollars and raise her profile. When she announced her campaign for governor, other prominent Democrats declined to run and Hobbs comfortably won her primary.
She ran a cautious campaign, sticking largely to scripted and choreographed public appearances.