Arizona secretary of state defeats Trump’s favorite election denier

November 16, 2022

Kari Lake, a far-right former TV journalist, may have become a national MAGA celebrity during her run for governor of Arizona. But she won’t become governor: She was defeated in the midterm election by her Democratic opponent, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, reports The Daily Beast.

Multiple news networks called the race in Hobbs’ favor on Monday, November 14, after nearly a week of slow post-election vote tallying in the swing state.

The contest between the two women was one of the most bitter, contentious, and nationally-watched state-level races anywhere in the country this year. In the late stages of the race, with the national environment cutting against Democrats, insiders believed that Lake was the clear favorite and Democrats were concerned about Hobbs’ low-key campaign strategy.

But the party’s surprisingly resonant message, and the apparent backlash to extreme GOP candidates like Lake, lifted not only Hobbs but Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who won re-election; and Adrian Fontes, who defeated the election denier Mark Finchem to succeed Hobbs as Secretary of State.

Hobbs’s victory is enormously significant for Democrats, on a number of fronts, says The Daily Beast:  The first Democratic governor of Arizona in well over a decade, Hobbs has built on major statewide wins for herself and for the party in 2018 and 2020, speaking further to this formerly deep-red state’s political transformation. Lake’s defeat is a bitter one for Republicans, who lost all toss-up governors’ races this year except for in Nevada.

But for many Democrats both in Arizona and beyond, simply averting a Lake governorship is cause enough for celebration. An effusive supporter of Donald Trump, she has amplified false conspiracies about the outcome of the 2020 election and made “election integrity” a core component of her campaign. Many worried that, as governor, Lake could have thrown out decades of precedent and norms about how elections are run in Arizona, to benefit the GOP in the 2024 election.

Lake also ran as a hardliner on issues like abortion and immigration, and her defeat will give Democrats much more power to ensure abortion access going forward in Arizona.

Despite Lake emerging as the favorite, for much of the 2022 campaign, both Democrats and Republicans believed that her extreme politics and her liabilities as a candidate made her unelectable. In the August primary, Lake scored a narrow victory over Karin Taylor Robson, a wealthy and influential figure in state GOP politics, who ran a more centrist campaign highlighting Lake’s fringe positions.

In the general election, Lake appeared to find her footing against Hobbs, who ran an exceedingly cautious and low-key campaign that contrasted starkly with Lake’s schedule of raucous rallies and near-daily events.

A flashpoint in the race was Hobbs’ decision not to debate Lake, saying that doing so would have given her a platform to spread conspiracies about the election and turn it into a spectacle. But Lake and her allies used the storyline to paint Hobbs as a candidate who wasn’t interested in explaining her positions to voters.

Ultimately, Hobbs’ conventional campaign strategy of distinguishing herself from her opponent through issues-based messaging and voter outreach blunted Lake’s momentum and manipulation of the media narrative.

While some Arizona insiders believe Lake is on track to remain a rising GOP star no matter what, she will not be pursuing further ambitions from the perch of the Arizona governor’s office.

Research contact: @thedailybeast