Kari Lake defeated as Democrat Katie Hobbs wins Arizona governor’s race

Trump loyalist Kari Lake blocked from office in major blow to election denialist movement

John Bowden,Alex Woodward
Tuesday 15 November 2022 02:49 GMT
Kari Lake falsely claims rival Katie Dobbs has never been in lead in Arizona race

Arizona voters have elected Democratic candidiate Katie Hobbs as the state’s next governor, defeating Kari Lake and dealing a blow to Donald Trump’s campaign to install loyalists in positions of power over election administration across the country.

The race was one of the most-watched contests in the country, as candidates who amplified Mr Trump’s false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him – ahead of his assumed entry into the 2024 race – sought, and lost, critical state-level positions that could determine the outcome of those results.

“This was not just about an election – it was about moving this state forward and facing the challenges of our generation,” Ms Hobbs said in a statement after her victory. Polling in the month before the election showed the race to be tight, with Ms Lake in the lead in some surveys.

Ms Lake, a former news anchor, was among Republican nominees running for the three crucial statewide offices in Arizona, including secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem and attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh – all of whom baselessly stated that the 2020 election was compromised. All received Mr Trump’s endorsement.

Mr Finchem, among far-right candidates for secretary of state offices across the US vowing to upend the electoral process, lost his race against Democratic candidate Adrian Fontes.

Nearly one week after Election Day, major TV networks and Associated Press called the race for governor after 9pm ET on 14 November.

Arizona became one of the main stages of Mr Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Two years on from that night, the state has remained at the centre of bogus election conspiracy theories and a focal point for so-called “election deniers” who have refused to accept the outcome of races they lose. The state also has the dubious honour of being one of the top states for threats against election workers.

Ms Hobbs led by more than 20,000 votes, capturing 50.4 per cent of the vote to Ms Lake’s 49.6 per cent, when the race was called on Monday.

Ms Lake’s defeat deals a major blow to Mr Trump’s bid to purge Republican governors who have rebuffed his election lie. His failed campaign sought to install loyalists in critical state-level races to do in 2024 what his spurious legal efforts failed to do in 2020.

A former broadcast journalist, Ms Lake assailed members of the press and repeatedly amplified bogus election claims on the campaign trail. She also battled attempts from reporters to get her to acknowledge that Arizona’s election results in 2020 had been affirmed by not only national experts but a state-led audit as well.

(Getty Images)

Ms Hobbs, who is currently Arizona’s secretary of state, received national attention after she helped certify the results of the 2020 election, defending the state’s election process after repeated attacks from Mr Trump, his allies and waves of harassment from activists and opponents.

“Katie, she may not be flashy,” former president Barack Obama told supporters during a recent rally in the state. “She could have been. She just chooses not to be because she is serious about her work.”

Ms Hobbs had refused to debate the Republican candidate throughout the race and faced some criticism for not running as aggressive a campaign as was thought necessary to defeat her opponent.

Ms Lake, meanwhile, refused to say that she would accept the result of an election in which she loses and falsely declared that she “won” days before the results were tallied.

“I’m going to win the election, and I will accept that result,” she said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union. Asked whether she would accept her loss, she replied: “I’m going to win the election, and I will accept that result.”

Arizona Republicans, right-wing operatives and little-known accounting firms spent months – and millions of dollars – studying the outcome of the state’s 2020 election results, which have repeatedly affirmed Mr Biden’s victory.

Thanks to a 30-year-old election law in the state, early voting by mail is by far the most popular way to vote in Arizona. Roughly 90 per cent of Arizona voters voted early in 2020 elections, most of whom voted by mail.

While thousands of such ballots awaited processing, verification and counting after Election Day, Ms Lake baselessly asserted that “they don’t want to put out the truth, which is that we won.”

“We’re going to win this, and there’s not a darn thing they can do about it,” she told far-right broadcaster Charlie Kirk on 10 November. “But they’re trying to pour cold water on this movement. This movement is on fire and no amount of water is going to put that fire out. We the people are taking our government back.”

Officials in Maricopa County were once again faced with a wave of conspiracy theories and election misinformation before and after Election Day, including swatting back claims made by the former president and Ms Lake and her supporters.

County officials tried to combat criticism, misinformation and allegations of malfeasance as they worked through hundreds of thousands of mailed ballots that were returned on Election Day.

The county is the second largest voting jurisdiction in the country and represents more than 60 percent of the state’s registered voters, many of whom vote by mail.

Election-denying candidates in any statewide role could oversee significant and radical changes to election rules, from changing the process of certifying election results to removing election administartion from nonpartisan bodies to partisan lawmakers, or cutting off access to mail-in ballots – all to favour their preferred candidate.

In Arizona, a swing state that Mr Biden won by just 12,000 votes, that could have dramatic implications for the whole country in 2024.

The victories reflect a drastic shift toward Arizona voters electing Democratic candidates compared to just a few years ago, when Arizona had a Republican governor, attorney general and secretary of state as well as two GOP Senators, including former Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

But Ms Lake bashed Mr McCain, who died of brain cancer in 2018.

“Boy, Arizona has delivered some losers, haven’t they,” Ms Lake said at one campaign event.

The state now has two Democratic senators following Mark Kelly’s re-election victory against Blake Masters.


Following the chaos in the wake of the 2020 election, voting rights advocates and pro-democracy groups warned that false claims of fraud and election-related misinformation deliberately casting doubt on the nation’s electoral process risk undermining confidence in elections and could pose a grave threat to American democracy.

The US Department of Justice and the FBI also named Arizona as one of the top states for threats to election officials and poll workers.

Just as armed protesters gathered outside of election offices on election night 2020, poll workers and even voters have faced threats and harassment as they cast ballots and help run the nation’s elections.

The FBI has reviewed more than 1,000 threats against people involved with elections nationwide and found that 58 per cent of them were made in states where so-called “audits” or recounts of the 2020 election results took place, such as Arizona, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

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