With the nation’s eyes on Arizona’s gubernatorial race, among the most high-profile contests this year and still too close to be called, county officials continued counting votes on Monday – now with an end in sight .
The start of the first new post-election work week began with Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs maintaining a lead over GOP challenger Kari Lake by just over 26,000 votes, or a single percentage point. About 160,000 ballots, of more than 2.6 million cast in the Grand Canyon State, remain to be counted.
Hobbs has been in the lead since partial results were first released Nov. 8. But what was once a 14-point gap narrowed to an uncomfortably close margin as Lake fared better among people who voted in person or dropped off ballots on Election Day.
As the votes were added, sometimes just over 1,000 at a time, the gap remained minimal, reflecting the race to the fate expected by political observers. As the votes remaining to be counted dwindled, a path for Lake to pass Hobbs became more difficult.
Hobbs’ campaign manager expressed confidence in the race’s trend on Sunday, saying Hobbs was “the unequivocal favorite to become Arizona’s next governor.” Lake has not commented publicly.
Election coverage: Live Updates | Arizona election results
Much of Monday’s attention should revolve around reports from Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, and Pima County, which includes Tucson. The two most populous counties in the state also have the most outstanding ballots, with more than 94,000 in Maricopa and 38,000 in Pima. Lake would need to win over 58% of the remaining statewide ballots.
Nearly 27,000 ballots were counted from other Arizona counties. More than 10,000 of them were in Pinal County and 8,000 in Cochise County in southeastern Arizona along the border with Mexico. Lake won both counties, among the votes cast so far, by more than 58%.
Poll workers planned to work long days on Monday — after a weekend of work — to count those large chunks of ballots. Typically, counties reported results each evening.
Losing Republican ticket with voters
As races across the country this year, the battle to become Arizona’s 24th governor saw Lake, the Republican, appeal to Arizonans as a fighter who would crack down on the state’s southern border with Mexico and would consolidate the elections. Lake, a former television news anchor, said she would not have certified Arizona’s 2020 result and continued to raise questions about normal election operations.
Hobbs, the Democrat and Secretary of State for Arizona, cast herself as a protector of democracy after certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state. She vowed to restore abortion rights after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, highlighting her record in the state legislature, where she championed women’s rights and opposed restrictive abortion laws ultimately imposed by the Republican majority.
The contest to replace Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, whose time is limited and can no longer run, is not the only nail-biting one among Arizona state offices, but he is most watched after two more races were called on Friday night.
The Associated Press projected that incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, won re-election against Blake Masters, who hitched his wagon to Lake, frequently campaigning alongside him, though he was ultimately unable to turn his stardom in support.
Similarly, Adrian Fontes, the former Maricopa County Democratic recorder, was expected to defeat Mark Finchem, a state legislator who espoused 2020 election misrepresentations and was in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in the race for secretary of state.
In other races on the ticket, Democrat Kris Mayes led her opponent Abraham Hamadeh in the race for attorney general and Democrat Kathy Hoffman had a slim lead in her race to seek a second term as superintendent of public schools on GOP challenger Tom Horne. Both of those races saw the leaders turn around as the results are counted and were too close to be announced on Sunday.
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