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Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Republican Kari Lake in Arizona’s critical gubernatorial race, Decision Desk HQ projects.
The race between Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, and Lake, who anchored local news at a Fox News affiliate station in Phoenix for 20 years before turning to politics, was one of the most consequential governor’s races of the 2022 midterms, with major implications for the 2024 election and beyond. Lake built her campaign on the lie that President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election, which took a particularly strong hold in Arizona after 2020, and, in a CNN interview, did not commit to accepting the outcome of the governor’s race if she loses.
In doing so, she secured the steadfast support of former President Donald Trump, who attempted to overturn his 2020 election loss and supported an unofficial partisan review of the results in Maricopa County.
The Trump-backed Republican nominees for attorney general and secretary of state in Arizona have similarly espoused the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump by voter fraud. Hobbs, who gained a national profile for defending the integrity of the 2020 election in Arizona as the state’s chief election official, has been on the receiving end of numerous threats in the wake of the election. Hobbs is the first Democrat to hold the governorship in Arizona since Janet Napolitano left office in 2009, and her election marks the end of a Republican trifecta in state government that has existed since then.
Abortion access also played a role in Arizona, where abortion providers have been left in limbo for months in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Courts have wrestled with whether or not to enforce Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban that both prohibits the procedure and criminalizes providers with jail time, in addition to a more recent 15-week abortion ban.
Hobbs heavily emphasized protecting abortion access in her campaign messaging. Lake, meanwhile, said she supported abortion bans in a Republican primary debate in the summer. But she later caused confusion over her stance on abortion by stating in a radio interview that “it would be really wonderful if abortion was rare and legal” and “rare but safe,” remarks her campaign subsequently tried to walk back.
The race between Lake and Hobbs was also a stark clash of personalities.
Lake combined both her media savvy from a decades-long television career with a combative and bombastic campaign style echoing Trump’s (with perhaps more message discipline and fewer gaffes). Her rise has spurred discussion and speculation over whether she could be Trump’s most natural successor.
“Kari Lake, as dangerous as she is to our democracy and the future of our state, is a good candidate,” Hobbs acknowledged to The New York Times.
Hobbs, for her part, ran a more understated and low-profile campaign, and received criticism from some Democrats for her decision not to debate Lake one-on-one.
Hobbs’ camp argued that a debate would quickly go off the rails and descend into a circus of mudslinging and name-calling. Lake and her supporters deployed a variety of over-the-top stunts to brand Hobbs as a coward, including putting empty chairs on stage and dressing up in chicken costumes to taunt Hobbs.