Calling the 2020 election rigged, Republican Kari Lake had repeatedly said she would not have certified Joe Biden’s win in Arizona in 2020. Hobbs, as Arizona’s secretary of state, had rejected GOP lies about the election.
Lake’s defeat follows the defeat of two other high-profile election deniers in the state – Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters and secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem.
“Democracy is worth the wait,” Hobbs tweeted after the race was called Monday night. “Thank you, Arizona. I am so honored and so proud to be your next Governor.”
Lake did not acknowledge Hobbs’ victory, instead tweeting, “Arizonans know BS when they see it.”
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The Republican nominee had already begun sowing doubts about the 2022 results. During an appearance on Fox News Monday before the race was called, Lake baselessly called the election “botched.”
“I don’t believe that people of Arizona would vote for her and that she would win. But if that’s what happens at the end of the day, how could you certify an election that is this botched?” Lake said.
During an appearance on right-wing activist Charlie Kirk’s talk show Thursday, she said, “I hate that they’re slow-rolling and dragging their feet and delaying the inevitable. They don’t want to put out the truth, which is that we won.”
There is no evidence that the election officials were delaying the reporting of results. At a news conference Thursday, Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, called out Lake’s comments. “It is offensive for Kari Lake to say that these people behind me are slow-rolling this when they are working 14-18 hours,” Gates, a Republican, said, gesturing to the election workers who were involved in tallying the ballots behind him through a glass window.
Lake had continued to stoke questions about the vote tabulation and Hobbs’ eventual role in certifying the vote as secretary of state hours before the race was projected for Hobbs. “Shouldn’t election officials be impartial,” Lake tweeted, a reference to the office that Hobbs holds. “The guys running the Election have made it their mission to defeat America First Republicans. Unbelievable.”
Arizona Assistant Secretary of State Allie Bones refuted Lake’s suggestion that Hobbs should recuse herself from overseeing the election. In an interview with CNN Monday night, she noted that Arizona elections are “highly decentralized” and the “counties are responsible for administering the elections and tabulating the votes.”
When pressed by CNN’s John King about exactly what the Arizona secretary of state’s role is in certifying the election, Bones said the process has worked the same way for years: all 15 counties will report their results to the secretary of state’s office, then the secretary’s office compiles those results and puts together the state-wide canvass. At that point “the secretary does sign off on that,” Bones said, but the governor, the attorney general and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court will also sign off on those final results.
Lake, a former news anchor at Fox 10 in Phoenix, ascended quickly to become one of the most prominent Republicans in the 2022 cycle as she and Hobbs vied to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. The outgoing governor had endorsed Lake’s primary opponent, but then backed Lake in the general election.
Hobbs, a former social worker who worked with victims of domestic violence before becoming a state lawmaker, ran a far more low-key and understated campaign, limiting her access to reporters and holding small, intimate events with supporters. She made democracy and abortion rights her central focus, portraying Lake as an “extreme” and “dangerous” figure who could jeopardize the sanctity of the 2024 presidential election by refusing to certify the results.
She had help in the latter effort from GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, whose political action committee put $500,000 behind an ad urging Arizona voters to reject Lake and Finchem. Lake subsequently posted a sarcastic letter on Twitter thanking Cheney for her “in-kind contribution” – claiming the ad was actually helping her campaign. On Monday night when the race was called for Hobbs, Cheney responded to Lake’s October 28 tweet with a simple retort: “You’re welcome.”
Barrett Marson, an Arizona GOP consultant who worked for Masters during the Senate primary, spoke to the wisdom of following Trump Monday night. “It’s over. The only thing Kari Lake should do now is graciously concede. This election tells us one thing: following Trump over the cliff will not win elections.”
Lake hewed closely to the Trump playbook on more than just the 2020 election. She promised to declare an “invasion” at the border – in what she described as an effort to amass greater power for the governor’s office to address the migrant crisis – and she called for the arrest of both of Dr. Anthony Fauci and her Democratic opponent.
Before announcing her bid, Lake left her anchor job in 2021 – stating that she didn’t like the direction that journalism was going – after becoming a household name in Phoenix. In one of her campaign videos, she said she was taking a sledgehammer to “leftist lies and propaganda,” as she destroyed television sets with the tool in stiletto boots.
She dispatched her primary opponents with her forceful denunciations of Democratic leaders’ handling of the Covid-19 pandemic – blasting restrictions like masking as unnecessary and harmful to children. She welcomed comparisons to Trump all the way through the end of the campaign – professing at one event that she was delighted when one admirer called her “Trump in a dress.”
Lake had painted Hobbs as a coward after Hobbs refused to debate her opponent this fall. Hobbs’ campaign argued that a debate with Lake “would only lead to constant interruptions, pointless distractions, and childish name-calling.”
Hobbs noted in an interview with CNN that Lake had repeatedly called for her arrest and said that her rhetoric had led to “violent threats and harassment against me.” Lake, in turn, portrayed her opponent’s answers as weakness, arguing that if Hobbs wouldn’t agree to debate her, “she can’t stand up against the cartels.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
Kyung Lah contributed to this report.