US Democrat Katie Hobbs beats Kari Lake to win Arizona governor race

Defeat for Trump ally comes as former president gears up for announcement of 2024 presidential run

Democrat Katie Hobbs's victory adds further evidence that Donald Trump is weighing down his allies . AP
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Democrat Katie Hobbs was elected as governor of the US state of Arizona 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.

Ms 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.

Her victory adds further evidence that Mr 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 is 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,” Ms Hobbs said.

“This was not just about an election — it was about moving this state forward and facing the challenges of our generation.”

AP called the governor's race for Ms Hobbs after the latest round of vote releases gave her a big enough lead.

The agency concluded that, even though Ms Lake had been posting increasingly larger margins in vote updates from Maricopa County, she was not gaining a big enough share to overtake Ms Hobbs and was running out of remaining votes.

Kari Lake was described as an 'agent of chaos' by new Arizona governor Katie Hobbs. AFP

Vote-counting had gone on for days since the Tuesday election, as officials continued to tally huge numbers of late-arriving ballots.

A one-time Republican stronghold where Democrats made gains during the Trump era, Arizona has been central to efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to cast doubt on Joe Biden's 2020 presidential victory with false claims of fraud.

This year, many candidates endorsed by Mr Trump 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, Ms Hobbs was a social worker who worked with the homeless and an executive at a large domestic violence shelter in Phoenix. 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.

Ms Hobbs eked out a narrow win in 2018 as secretary of state and was thrust into the centre of a political storm as Arizona became the centrepiece of efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election. She appeared regularly on cable news defending the integrity of the vote count.

The attention allowed her to raise both millions of dollars and her profile. When she announced her campaign for governor, other prominent Democrats declined to run and Ms Hobbs comfortably won her primary.

She ran a cautious campaign, sticking largely to scripted and choreographed public appearances. She declined to participate in a debate with Ms Lake, saying that her opponent would turn it into a spectacle by spouting conspiracy theories and making false accusations.

She bet instead that voters would recoil against Ms Lake, who picked verbal fights with journalists as cameras rolled and struck a combative tone towards Democrats and even the establishment Republicans who have long dominated state government.

Updated: November 15, 2022, 7:01 AM
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